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Gatting's new Hampshire goal
HE made his Football League debut against Saints at St Mary’s but will be playing cricket for Hampshire at The Ageas Bowl this summer. Joe Gatting, nephew of former England captain Mike, netted ten goals in 50 games as a Brighton & Hove Albion striker, before switching sports at the age of 21.
Within a year of his last Football League appearance in April 2008, he scored an unbeaten 152 on his first-class cricket debut for Sussex.
Now, after scoring 1,026 County Championship runs at 25.02 in 30 matches during the last five seasons, he is hoping to revive his career at The Ageas Bowl.
“I’m delighted to be joining such a fantastic club,” said the 26 year-old, who has signed a two-year contract.
“As soon as I heard Hampshire where interested in me it became clear that’s where I wanted to play my cricket. “I’ve heard and seen nothing but good things. I can’t wait for the new chapter and fresh start at Hampshire and I can’t wait to get started.”
Gatting is a player Hampshire have monitored for more than a year and, along with fellow new signings Will Smith and Matt Coles, will add much-needed depth to the county’s squad.
Hampshire Director of Cricket, Giles White said: “We expect to see less and less of Michael Carberry so Joe comes in to add depth to our batting. He has shown he is a talented batsman and an athletic fielder and we expect him to be a good addition to the squad.
“We hope he makes strides in fulfilling his potential over the next couple of years."
When he makes his debut, Gatting will join an elite club of Hampshire cricketers to have also played professional football.
CB Fry, Henry Horton, Phil Mead, John Arnold, Ted Drake and Arthur Holt all played for Saints to varying degrees.
Wicketkeepers Bob Stephenson – an inside forward for Derby County, Shrewsbury and Rochdale – and Iain Brunnschweiler – AFC Totton’s goalkeeper at the 2007 FA Vase final – are Hampshire’s most recent dual sportsmen.
But Gatting, a right-handed batsman, will break new ground as the first person to play professional sport at St Mary’s and The Ageas Bowl.
It was in January 2006 that he made his Brighton debut in the Championship at St Mary’s, coming on as an 89th-minute substitute shortly after Dexter Blackstock had scored the second of his two goals in a 2-1 Saints win.
Back then he was following in the footsteps of his dad Steve, who played in three successive FA Cup finals for Arsenal as a defender/midfielder from 1976-81, before making 316 appearances during a ten-year spell at Brighton, including a fourth FA Cup final appearance in 1983.
Steve now coaches Arsenal’s Under-21 side, which is competing with Martin Hunter’s Saints in the top seven of the Barclays U21 Premier League.
Gatting junior was born in 1987, the year his uncle led England to Ashes success Down Under. But his dad, a useful cricketer himself for Preston Nomads in the Sussex Premier League, has been his biggest influence. “Dad said that if I tried football and failed to make it, I could go back to cricket but would have learnt some important life skills,” he once said.
It was after Dean Wilkins was sacked as Brighton manager and replaced by Micky Adams in May 2008, that Gatting decided on a change of career.
“I woke up and realised I wasn’t looking forward to it,” he said. “I’d lost my enthusiasm and, because of the circumstance I was in, I just didn’t enjoy playing football anymore.”
Gatting began his Sussex career at No. 3, where he made his only century against county opposition, an unbeaten 116 against Worcestershire at New Road in 2011.
He has also opened and batted as far down as No. 7 for his home county in the Championship. But he has been used most often in limited-overs cricket, averaging 27.8 from 43 one-day appearances and 14.7 in 52 T20 games.
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