Banbury have boosted their challenge for the Serious Cricket Home Counties Premier League title by signing South African all-rounder Brady Barends.

The 24-year-old right-arm opening bowler and middle-order batsman has played 36 first-class matches for KwaZulu-Natal Inland.

During that time he has taken 71 wickets at an average of 36.50, with best figures of 9-68.

He has also made a first-class half-century with 58.

And he showed last season he can be a force with the bat by scoring more than 500 runs for Paignton in the Devon Premier League.

Skipper Jimmy Phillips explained that they had signed Barends on the recommendation of new club coach Paul Atkins, who had coached the all-rounder in South Africa.

Banbury hadn’t originally planned to recruit an overseas player.

But Phillips said they felt they needed an opening bowler, particularly with talented 17-year-old Josh Megson joining Great & Little Tew.

Banbury’s captain added: “We are excited. I have never seen him play, but we have had good reports about him, his stats look good, and he has been recommended from a personality point of view.”

He explained that they had been able to arrange external coaching opportunities for Barends to earn money.

He will also coach the club’s women’s side, who will play in the National League for the first time.