ILLINGWORTH have turned to Australia, a rich source of talent for them in the past, for their 2012 overseas player.
He is 27-year-old Sean Stevenson, an all-rounder who plays A grade cricket for Westbury Shamrocks in Tasmania.
The all-rounder, who bats in the top four and bowls first change, is his club’s assistant coach and played for his state at under 17 and under 19 level.
Stevenson is no stranger to English conditions, or indeed Yorkshire. He has previously had a season playing for Whitby CC, topping the 600 runs mark and winning the league bowling award.
Stuart Thompson, current chairman of the Aire/Wharfe Division Three club, is the link with Stevenson as he used to live on the east coast.
Thompson has spoken to the Aussie on several occasions in recent months and has already discussed taking a different player from the Westbury club for the 2013 campaign.
First teamer Richard Farrell-Smith said: “It is good to get our overseas player sorted out so early - it is normally January or February time before anything is finalised.”
Illingworth have had South Africans as overseas players in recent years with all-rounder Pieter Venter enjoying a decent second spell at the Jammy Green club this summer.
Going further back, they have had great success with Australians.
Current Bangladesh coach Stuart Law, who went on to play in 54 one day internationals, had a spell at the Halifax club while Mark Walsh and Ben Saunders also made a big impression.
Illingworth have had a couple of setbacks on the playing front.
Their best batsman, last year’s captain Niall Lockley, has joined Elland while wicketkeeper Chris Bishop is also heading to the Huddersfield League, to team up with his brother Jonathon at Kirkheaton.
Farrell-Smith said: “Niall wanted to move on and we wish him well in the Huddersfield League.
“It will be interesting to see how he does but he is sure to score runs wherever he goes.”
He added that Illingworth had a replacement ‘keeper lined up.
Luke Brooksby is Illingworth’s new skipper as they bid to gain the promotion which narrowly eluded them in the latest season.
Farrell-Smith and Alex Ledger will share the vice-captain’s role while Steve Smith will lead the seconds.
Illingworth will step up their preparations for the season at the new Holmfield Mills nets on Thursdays from February 2 (8.0).
Their opening game on Saturday, April 21 is against a Colton side who finished level on points with them in mid-September.
They are also involved in the preliminary round of the Waddilove Cup on April 29 at home to a Woodhouse side who also just missed out on claiming a place in the middle section.