Blackpool CC will be looking to get off to the best possible start in defence of their Northern Premier Cricket League Division One title with this weekend’s derby day clash.
The reigning champions welcome Fleetwood CC to Stanley Park for their season opener, where they will be aiming to sow the seeds for a successful campaign.
Skipper Paul Danson wants his team to get up and running after a less than ideal off-season.
“We only managed to get one pre-season friendly in so in terms of match practice we’re probably a bit short, a bit light,” he said.
“We would have liked to have had a couple more games but we’ve been netting for a while now and just these last few days we’ve been fine tuning a few things getting ready for the big kick-off.
“I think the squad is better balanced than it probably ever has been. The squad is still a very young one and that’s a positive.
“These lads, three or four of them now, have been with me five or six years and they’re still only 20, 21 or 22 and they’ve got two titles under their belts, so they know what to expect.
“I don’t know how many teams have gone on to win back-to-back titles but there’s no reason why this current side shouldn’t be up there again, fighting for honours on all fronts.
“It would be great to win back-to-back titles and I’m sure most other clubs will be looking at the likes of ourselves, Netherfield, St Annes and Fleetwood as the teams to beat.
“It’s a great way to start the season in a way but in another way it’s not so great. I’ve got good friends at Fleetwood and I like playing them on the Bank Holidays, it’s a big occasion with a big crowd on.
“With it being the first game of the season and it clashing with the football, I’m not sure if we’ll get the crowd down that the game deserves to get.
“But Fleetwood are a good side and they’ve been very busy recruiting in the transfer market.
“Matt Clark is in charge and he’s a good mate of mine. He’ll have them fired up because he’ll want to do one on us.”
For Fleetwood, they will be looking to improve on last season’s ninth-placed finish.
Clark said: “We’ve had a number of in and outs and we’ve now got a very young squad, which is quite exciting and I’m very much looking forward to seeing what they can achieve.
“Our Under-19s won the Lancashire County Championship last year and a lot of those lads will be playing with us this year.
“We’ll be a young side but because of that I’m hoping we’ll hold no fear and have a lot of athleticism, no egos. I’m quietly looking forward to it.
“I’d certainly hope we’re not looking over our shoulders to relegation, that’s for sure, as we ended up towards the end of last season.
“It was quite a difficult season with a bit of turmoil within the club but that seems to have settled itself.
“We’ll be looking to the top six I’d have thought, maybe with a good cup run. We’ll try and gain some momentum early and see where it takes us but obviously we’ve got a very, very tough game first game of the season against a side who will take some stopping.
“The two games against Blackpool are the biggest games of our season, there’s no hiding away from that. We go into it as the underdogs; they’re clearly a good side, but we’re hoping to spring an upset.
“The early games can often bring up some funny results.”