Fylde coast cricket preview: Blackpool's battle for balance after shock loss of professional

Blackpool's Lahiru Madushanka had an unexpected call-up for Emerging Sri Lanka'Picture: TIM GILBERT / PRESTON PHOTOGRAPHIC SOCIETY
Blackpool's Lahiru Madushanka had an unexpected call-up for Emerging Sri Lanka'Picture: TIM GILBERT / PRESTON PHOTOGRAPHIC SOCIETY

Blackpool Cricket Club captain Paul Danson says overseas professional Lahiru Madushanka will be back in three weeks and insists the Sri Lankan’s absence is not impacting his side’s quest to retain their title.

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The Northern League champions have made use of guest pros in recent weeks, following Madushanka’s unexpectedly call-up for the ‘Emerging’ Sri Lanka squad.

But for long-serving captain Danson, the biggest problem posed by Madushanka’s exit is balancing his bowling attack.

Without ‘Larry’, Blackpool are down an opening seamer and most of the available subs are spinners.

But Danson is confident his team is strong enough to cope as they welcome Longridge to Stanley Park tomorrow and bid to build on the win over title rivals Fulwood and Broughton which lifted Blackpool to third.

Danson said: “Lahiru was in fantastic form and it came out of the blue this ‘Emerging’ tour. When we signed him we were assured he would not be part of the squad, but then four or five players dropped out and he’s called in. Obviously it is not good.

“When you get a pro you want him until the end of the season. He’s an opening bowler and middle-order batsman, so to find sub-professionals who can help the balance of the side is difficult.

“But knowing he was going gave me time to plan ahead and line up some professionals, which we have done.

“We have had some really good players and Ockert Erasmus batted beautifully at Fulwood and Broughton.

“He scored 66 not out and that is the way to play in league cricket – he built an innings and played properly.

We don’t see enough of that – there is too much crash, bang, wallop these days.

“The hard part of the job is getting sub-professionals because they play in other leagues. I’ve picked lads who are involved in the Lancashire League and they play on Sundays, so it’s been all right but I’m still chasing my tail for some weeks!

“We are a good side and we are bringing in good players but losing Larry does upset our balance.

“We went for him because we wanted someone to open the bowling with Matt Grindley.

“The players we have brought in to replace him have been spinners, so we have had to think about balance because we already have two good spinners.”

Ten games into the season and Danson says his team are yet to hit top form, though they are only five points behind leaders Leyland.

He added: “We have played well without the pro but I don’t think we have hit top form as a team yet, though we are in a good position.

“We had a bad start but we’ve picked up and I’ve noticed over the last few weeks that people are hitting form, starting to switch on and play good cricket.

“Fulwood and Broughton have Simon Kerrigan, who is ex-England, but we did a job with the ball and played professionally to get over the line.

“On Sunday we probably had 10 players missing for the Lancashire Cup game at Leyland.

“But because of the depth we have at the club we managed to field a reasonable side and against the odds we were superb.

“It was a tremendous team achievement to win by nine wickets.

“We bowled them out for 115 and it was one of the best victories in my time at the club considering the availability.”