Redbacks add to bowling depth with Sixers tweaker
South Australia recruit Ben Manenti from Tasmania as Redbacks make nine changes to their men's contract list for the 2022-23 summer
10 May 2022, 09:01 AM AEST
South Australia have lured Sydney-born off-spinner Ben Manenti out of Tasmania in another much-needed boost for their bowling attack.
The 25-year-old tweaker – who made both his first-class and List A debuts with the Tigers last season – joins fellow NSW-raised fast bowlers Harry Conway and Henry Thornton in making the switch to the Redbacks for the 2022-23 season, revealed by cricket.com.au last week.
Manenti, who didn't hold a Tasmanian contract last season but impressed for New Town in Premier Cricket, claimed match figures of 5-190 in his first Marsh Sheffield Shield match in March, which the Tigers narrowly lost to Victoria that effectively end their push to make the final.
Both Conway and Thornton play for the Adelaide Strikers in the KFC BBL, with 29-year-old Conway joining the Redbacks with the experience of 38 first-class matches across six seasons at the Blues, which yielded 96 wickets at 28.26.
Thornton, who wasn't contracted by Victoria, played four Marsh Cup games for the Vics during the 2021-22 summer after moving from Sydney and was awarded the Dean Jones Medal as their one-day player of the year.
The trio are among nine changes to the Redbacks list for next season after they lost experienced former Australian fast bowlers Kane Richardson (Queensland), Daniel Worrall (Surrey) and Joe Mennie (retired).
Young fast bowler Jordan Buckingham and middle-order batter Thomas Kelly, who both made their first-class debuts against NSW in the last game of the season, which was the Redbacks first win in 16 matches, have had their rookie deals upgraded to full contracts.
Australian Under-19 World Cup representative Aidan Cahill, also from NSW, has received a rookie contract after impressing with 72 against Scotland and three wickets during the tournament earlier this year.
Local talent and U19 World Cup teammate Isaac Higgins (who hit four centuries for Glenelg in SA Premier Cricket last season) and Sturt wicketkeeper-batter Harry Matthias have also earned rookie deals, while 26-year-old left-arm quick Spencer Johnson returns to the squad following an impressive season with West Torrens and the SA Second XI where he collected 59 wickets at 18.97.
Batter Ryan Gibson and allrounder Sam Kerber have been delisted, while Thomas Kelly's identical twin brother Corey has decided to step away from cricket for personal reasons.
Manenti earned his first opportunity in top level domestic cricket with the Sydney Sixers in 2019 where he's collected 16 wickets in 22 BBL appearances.
He moved south to Hobart ahead of the 2021-22 summer and it's where he was going to stay for next season playing with his brother Harry at New Town until South Australia showed some interest two weeks ago and he jumped at the opportunity of a two-year deal.
"I'm 25 (years old) now so I'm getting to the stage where if I'm going to play state cricket, it's got to happen pretty soon," he told cricket.com.au of his decision to move to South Australia.
"I had a bit of a taste of it this year with Tassie and I just wanted to be in a position where that could become more consistent and regular … that was the biggest reason, the opportunity to hopefully be able to play week in, week out in a professional setup.
"My first aim is to secure a spot in both one-day and Shield cricket but also do whatever I can to help them win games of cricket consistently."
Redbacks head coach Jason Gillespie said they'd had their eye on Manenti for a little while.
"What we are really excited about is his competitive nature and how he goes about his work. He is a really competitive guy who plays to win, and we know that energy will add significantly to the squad," the 71-Test veteran said.
You've seen him in the @BBL and now Ben Manenti has a maiden first-class wicket! @MarshGlobal | #SheffieldShield pic.twitter.com/hQ4wBSDTds— cricket.com.au (@cricketcomau) March 16, 2022
"It's so exciting that the lads (Conway and Thornton) come and spend time at the Strikers and feel South Australia is a great place to be. It’s wonderful to be able to get these guys over.
"Henry brings air speed, he pitches the ball up and moves it away from the right-handers at pace.
"Harry is a tall fast bowler with plenty of skills. He’s also a big personality who aspires to be a leader around the group, he wants to be a leader and that is fantastic."
South Australia Redbacks 2022-23 contract list: Wes Agar, Jordan Buckingham, Alex Carey*, Jake Carder, Harry Conway, Brendan Doggett, Daniel Drew, David Grant, Travis Head*, Henry Hunt, Spencer Johnson, Thomas Kelly, Jake Lehmann, Nathan McAndrew, Nathan McSweeney, Ben Manenti, Harry Nielsen, Lloyd Pope, Liam Scott, Henry Thornton, Jake Weatherald, Nick Winter. Rookies: Kyle Brazell, Aiden Cahill, Bailey Capel, Isaac Higgins, Ryan King, Harry Matthias
* Cricket Australia contract
Ins: Jordan Buckingham (upgraded), Harry Conway (NSW), Spencer Johnson (West Torrens), Thomas Kelly (upgraded), Ben Manenti (Tasmania), Henry Thornton (Victoria), Aidan Cahill (NSW), Isaac Higgins (Glenelg), Harry Matthias (Sturt). Outs: Ryan Gibson (delisted), Corey Kelly (personal reasons), Sam Kerber (delisted), Joe Mennie (retired), Kane Richardson (Queensland), Daniel Worrall (Surrey)