Andrew Capel reports-
ADELAIDE appears to have won the AFL race to sign star sporting all-rounder Alex Keath.
Included in Gold Coast’s 2010 VFL team before turning his back on football to sign a contract with Cricket Victoria, Keath plans to move to Adelaide in October to play district cricket for Prospect.
And after losing his Victorian state cricket contract, the Crows hope the 23-year-old 196cm key-position player could return to playing football as early as next season.
They want to list him as a category B rookie, similar to ruck project and former basketballer Jack Osborn, who remains on their list.
Keath, presently playing cricket in England, is understood to be on the verge of committing to the Crows.
“We certainly have an interest in Alex,’’ Adelaide head of football David Noble said.
“Obviously cricket is his No.1 passion at this point but he is a gifted footballer too so we’re exploring opportunities with him.
“He is a talent and if he decides to play football again we would be interested in working with him.’’
Under the category B rookie rule, a club can sign any player who has not been registered with a football club for more than three years.
The player can be paid outside of the salary cap until he has played a senior game.
Keath — a stylish right-handed batsman and medium pace bowler — is presently playing cricket for Knowle and Dorridge in the Birmingham League Premier Division.
He is dominating the competition, having smashed 246 from 165 balls last week, and is keen to resurrect his cricket career in Adelaide, believing a fresh start could be all he needs.
SACA has told Keath it will consider offering him a contract if he can prove himself in the district competition.
Keath’s manager Neil McMullin said his multi-talented client wanted to reignite his first-class cricket career after playing seven matches for Victoria, including one last season when he made 45 and 30 against Tasmania.
A former Victorian under-19 captain, the Shepparton-born Keath has also played 16 List A matches and five Twenty20 matches for the Bushrangers and was a member of the Melbourne Stars Big Bash squad last season.
But McMullin said he was open minded about returning to football.
“Alex is moving to SA because he wants to make a fresh start with his cricket,’’ McMullin said.
“That remains his No. 1 priority and he is hoping if he can perform well in the district competition it could lead to something with the Redbacks.
“But he has not closed the door on playing football again and will explore any opportunities that come his way.’’
Keath has verbally agreed to play with Prospect because of his friendship with club president Tom Hastwell.
His former premier cricket coach in Melbourne, Andrew Kent, has described Keath’s cricket ability as “off the charts’’.
But he is so talented at football that 14 AFL clubs have reportedly kept in contact with him since he quit the Gold Coast, despite his light frame.