WHEN wicketkeeper Jeff Goninan flew to England last winter to play for Swindon, his Newcastle club – Stockton-Raymond Terrace – hoped he would score runs, get plenty of dismissals and generally develop as a cricketer. But Goninan brought back far more from the Staffordshire club. He convinced Swindon teammate and housemate Todd Henderson to leave behind a cold Wolverhampton winter to travel Down Under for the summer. Henderson has been an astute acquisition for the peninsula club. After 10 games the right-arm quick is leading the Newcastle grade cricket bowling list with 30 wickets at an average of 11.83. The 21-year-old joins a list of English fast bowlers who have plied their trade across the harbour. In 2007-08, Kent fast bowler Warren Lee took 27 wickets at 13 in 10 matches and a season later Graeme Onions had a brief stint with the club before he played the first of eight Tests for England. ‘‘When Jeff told me he [Onions] had been at the club before, I knew it obviously must be a good club,’’ Henderson said. He has taken one five-wicket haul – 5-30 against Charlestown in round two – but Henderson has shown consistency by dismissing batsmen in every innings he has bowled in first grade. ‘‘It has definitely improved me as a cricketer being over here,’’ he said. ‘‘I’ve bowled to better quality batsmen and I’ve trained harder. ‘‘Through people like Darren [Whittingham] and Benn [West] having experience at good levels of cricket, they have helped me with my run-up, as frankly it was a bit knackered.’’ The Seagulls’ love affair with the English extends to batsman Eddie Ballard, who has replaced veteran Terry Crittenden as captain this season. Ballard is from London but Henderson said having an English skipper made the transition easier. Stockton (27 points) are eighth on the competition ladder and trail fourth-placed University by 15 points. Wins over Waratah-Mayfield in a 50-over game and Hamilton-Wickham in Twenty20 last weekend provided a promising start to the new year. But more improvement is needed if the Seagulls are to qualify for their first semi-finals since 2008-09. Any semi-final campaign is likely to be without Henderson as he plans to return to Wolverhampton in late February to trial for Staffordshire’s county side.