Fleetwood Cricket Club will continue their policy of giving talented youngsters their chance as they prepare to start the Northern Premier League season at home to Leyland on Saturday.
They are pinning their faith in a 15-year-olds James Amor and Declan Clerkin for this weekend’s season-opener at Broadwater at a time when the squad has been replenished by Australian imports Travis Dean and Patrick Ashton.
Fleetwood set great store by their youth policy, and Dean and Ashton are expected to play their part.
Skipper Mat Clark said: “Travis and Patrick will be based at Rossall School, where we have a good link and where we coach their students. They will both play a part in that.”
Fleetwood have high hopes for the two Aussies.
Dean turned down a better deal elsewhere to come to Fleetwood, while Ashton is a specialist leg-spinner, who bats around number six.
A talented opening bat, Dean made history in October when he became the first man to score a century in each innings of his Sheffield Shield debut, playing for Victoria. He also scored a ton to help his state lift the Shield in the decider against South Australia.
Fleetwood skipper Clark said: “A lot of clubs were interested in signing Travis and he could have earned substantially more elsewhere.
“But he already had a good contract back home with Victoria and he had done his homework about Fleetwood, and what kind of a welcoming, friendly club it is.
“He also knows about the Australians who had played here before. He had spoken to both David King and Ian Holland about us.”
Dean is good mates with Fleetwood’s other Aussie import Patrick Ashton, who plays for Ringwood back home.
Fleetwood had a short trip to Scotland as they prepared for the new campaign. The elements meant they did not get out into the middle, but there was plenty of practice indoors and on the 3G surface at their Stirling base.
Clark said: “We took 30 players up to Scotland and it was a worthwhile exercise. We got some practice in as well as team-bonding.
“It was disappointing that we didn’t get to play, but it is the same with most of the other clubs who have also been held up by the rain.”
Clark says his target is to hunt for titles in all forms of the game and he believes that the league will be more competitive than ever this season.
Clark picked out champions Morecambe, Blackpool and Netherfield as major rivals for honours.
He said: “Morecambe will be up there again, but as we found out it is not easy to try and win back-to-back titles.
“They will be the team everybody else in the league will want to beat and they will still have some very good bowlers.
“I expect Blackpool to be in the top four. Like us, they try to encourage young players to come through and it has paid off for them. Netherfield should be up there with the three overseas players they have,” Clark added.
n Blackpool CC seamer Richard Gleeson had a frustrating County Championship match for Northants against Sussex. He didn’t get to bowl as the match was abandoned due to rain, with no play after day two.