Weekend cricket preview: Blackpool professional's debt to Red Rose skipper
New Zealand all-rounder Daryl Mitchell is pleased he followed good friend Steven Croft's advice to spend the summer on the Fylde coast with title-chasing Blackpool.
Blackpool are seven points behind Northern Premier Cricket League Premier Division leaders Leyland and could go top of the first division if they win tomorrow’s derby at St Annes and the pace-setters lose to Kendal.
New club professional Mitchell, a 25-year-old right-hander, is averaging just over 50 with the bat and has also picked up 16 wickets bowling right-arm medium pace to help Blackpool rise up the table on the back of four successive wins.
And the Northern Districts player says he is enjoying his time in the northern hemisphere and says he is glad he listened to Blackpool-born Lancashire captain Croft, who advised him to join the Stanley Park club.
Mitchell said: “I’ve had a decent start to the season. You always want more runs but if the team is doing well, then that is all that matters.
“I’m trying to get a few wickets but Blackpool is a tough place to get wickets because it’s a good batting track .
“It has been everything I had hoped for and more.
“Steven Croft is a good friend of mine. He recommended coming over to Blackpool and it has been awesome.
“It has been great fun and there is a great bunch of players here. It is a great club and it has been awesome to be part of it.”
St Annes are currently 10th in the table but t won their second game of the league campaign last weekend. That 42-run win over Penrith lifted them out of the bottom two and Matt Grindley’s side will be hoping to dent local rivals Blackpool’s title challenge.
Blackpool kept the heat on leaders Leyland with an 83- run victory over Netherfield on Saturday and Mitchell is convinced his new club can win the title.
The Kiwi cricketer, who has scored three half-centuries for Blackpool but is yet to reach a ton (he finished unbeaten on 98 in the win over Morecambe in April), says the key to the side’s encouraging form is their blend of youth and experience.
He said: “We have got a good balance in the team.
“There are some older, experienced players and some young lads learning the way.
“I hope we can challenge for the title. We have that balance right but there is still a long way to go.”
Fleetwood will be hoping Blackpool slip up tomorrow, which could open the door to the Broadwater club to regain second spot with victory away to a Netherfield side who were well beaten at Stanley Park last weekend.
It’s a busy weekend for Fleetwood, who are at home to Oldham-based Pennine League club Glodwick in the second round of the Lancashire Cricket Board Knockout Cup on Sunday.
Blackpool have been disqualified from that competition for fielding the ineligible Daniel Pile in the previous round against Clitheroe.
Lytham also face a double-heder this weekend in the Liverpool Competition.
Dom O’Brien’s side have surged into the top half of the ECB premier division table on the back of three successive wins, though they will be hard pressed to maintain that winning sequence away to leaders Northern in Crosby tomorrow.
Lytham return to Church Road on Sunday to face first division side Ainsdale in the third round of the league’s Ray Digman Knockout trophy.
Tomorrow’s Second XI match between Blackpool and St Annes has been switched to Preston CC’s West Cliff ground as Stanley Park prepares for Sunday’s county game between Lancashire and Nottinghamshire in the Royal London One-Day Cup.
There’s a Fylde coast derby in the Palace Shield tomorrow as Freckleton take on Thornton Cleveleys at Bush Lane, where fifth plays sixth in the premier division.
Third-placed Garstang face a tough test to halt their losing run at home to unbeaten leaders Fulwood & Broughton.