Gloucestershire have signed 27-year-old fast bowler David Wade - currently a Lance Corporal with the Royal Signals - on a two-year contract.
Wade will train with Gloucestershire over the winter while still remaining with the Army before joining the club on a full-time basis this summer.
“I have been in the Army for six years," he told the club's official website (www.gloscricket.com). "I spent seven months in Afghanistan between September 2007 and April 2008 and was due to go back out there in January for a six-month tour of duty. Gloucestershire’s offer came out of the blue, but I have always played club cricket at a very competitive level.
“I have been here since the players reported back in November, but everything had to be right with the Army and it took a little time to get everything sorted out. They have been very helpful.
“The soldiers going out to Kabul this time have got a hard job and my troop will be going out in an infantry role. There is a pang of regret about not going with them because I did all the build-up training and I was ready to go.
“But my fellow soldiers are right behind me in the decision I have made and wish me well. It’s a last roll of the dice for me as far as playing professional sport is concerned and I will be giving it all I’ve got.”
Wade is a former Hampshire youth cricketer and impressed Gloucestershire with performances for Westbury in the West of England Premier League.
Director of Cricket at Gloucestershire John Bracewell added: “Like Gemaal Hussain, David is a relative late comer to the professional game and like his predecessor was discovered through our scouting programme. He trialled with us early last year and impressed us with his pace bounce and outswing.
"With his proven discipline and obvious courage through the army’s forces he has shown throughout the winter months a dedication to training and coaching. We are confident that David will be a real contributor to our campaign this season.”
Fast bowling coach Stuart Barnes said: “David impressed us during the past summer and it's great to have a bowler on board that possesses the attributes we are looking for to move the squad forwards. He's tall, swings the ball and I'm looking forwards to working with him. He's a good age to really develop fast and he has his best years ahead of him.”
© Cricket World 2010