Fylde coast cricket preview: Blackpool ready for toughest test yet

Matt Grindley
Matt Grindley

Blackpool Cricket Club skipper Paul Danson says that to win the Northern Premier League title his team will have to finish above defending champions Netherfield, who they face in a mouthwatering top-of-the-table clash at Stanley Park on Saturday

READ MORE: Last weekend's match round-up
Leaders Blackpool are unbeaten after 10 games, and while they have failed to reach the later stages of the cup competitions that is something Danson says might favour them in the long term.

Right now Danson and company are preparing for their toughest test of the season.

And despite being thefirst division’s only unbeaten side, Danson says his men have still to reach their peak and he hopes they can fulfil their potential against the Cumbrians this weekend.

Danson said: “I said at the start of the season that to win this league you would have to finish above Netherfield.

“And once again they are looking strong. It will be a great game, a real tough test

“We have done all right but we have not yet hit our stride.

“We have won games that we could have ost but the key is that we have got momentum and know how to win games. In cricket momentum is key.”

Blackpool have been boosted by the recruitment of former St Annes captain Matt Grindley. The 24-year-old has regularly been at the top of the NPL bowling charts in recent years and Danson says it is no surprise he has lived up to his reputation.

Right now Grindley has the best bowling average in the league and stands third in the wicket-taking list with 29. He has built up a devastating opening bowling partnership with professional Jovaun van Wyngaardt.

Blackpool were also able to call upon Northamptonshire seamer Richard Gleeson for their win over Leyland and the skipper was coy as to whether his brother-in-law would be making another appearance for Blackpool this summer

Danson said: “Our bowling attack has been strong so far this season and the key for us is the squad.

“Our second team is top of the league too and we have competition for places across the board.

“We knew what we were signing with Matt and he has been brilliant. He and the pro have been putting teams under pressure from the off.

“We have been able to get a stranglehold on teams and take control with early wickets.

“Matt is a local lad and we have a lot of local players in our squad, which is good for the area. We have a lot of youngsters coming through.

“The vibe around the whole club is good and long may it continue.”

Another big plus this season is that Danson has not had to check his weather apps each Saturday morning.

Blackpool haven’t lost a game to the elements as yet and the skipper hopes the sun keeps shining on the Fylde coast.

“You can’t beat it,” he said. “This is what it is all about. If it goes down to the wire, then a rained-off game can impact the league.

“ In our area you can have a game rained off in Blackpool but a game on in Chorley. That can hamper you at the end but so far so good. It has been brilliant.”

A Steven Croft-assisted Lytham Cricket Club bid for a fourth successive Liverpool Competition win at home to Leigh tomorrow.

Lytham, who stage a star-studded testimonial match for Croft at Church Road next Wednesday, are six points above Leigh in the ECB premier league, having replaced them in the top half of the table.

Croft has found form for Lytham in recent weeks, with half-centuries on the last two weekends

Just up the road St Annes entertain Fulwood and Broughton as the Northern League reaches its halfway point tomorrow.

Third-place St Annes aim to capitalise on top two Blackpool and Netherfield facing each other at Stanley Park.

Improving F&B were winners last weekend against fifth-placed Fleetwood, who bid to bounce back at home to a stuttering Morecambe side humbled by Chorley last time out.

The Fylde coast’s premier division sides in the Palace Shield are all at home as well tomorrow, though the local match of the day is in division one, with fourth-placed Kirkham and Wesham welcome leaders Freckleton.

On Sunday, South Shore visit Pemberton in the last of the Meyler Cup quarter-finals.

The winners will be away to former premier division leaders Croston in a fortnight.

FIXTURES

Northern Premier League: Blackpool v Netherfield, Chorley v Penrith, Fleetwood v Morecambe, Garstang v Preston, Leyland v Barrow, St Annes v Fulwood and Broughton.

Liverpool Competition ECB premier league: Lytham v Leigh

Moore and Smalley Palace Shield premier division: Croston v Eccleston, Great Eccleston v Kendal, New Longton v Penwortham, South Shore v Longridge, Thornton Cleveleys v Lancaster, Torrisholme v Vernon Carus.

Division 1A: BAC/EE Preston v Grimsargh, Kirkham and Wesham v Freckleton, Mawdesley v Norcross, Standish v Fylde, Tarleton v Hoghton, Withnell Fold v Rufford.