Fylde coast cricket preview: New St Annes captain fired up for the future
Nathan Armstrong hopes to build on the foundations laid by predecessor Matt Grindley as he takes the reins as St Annes CC skipper for the rest of the season.
Grindley is the Northern Premier League’s leading wicket-taker with 40 and will continue to play for the Vernon Road club but has relinquished the captaincy due to other commitments.
And 25-year-old batsman Armstrong, who has come through the ranks at his local club over the past decade, didn’t need asking twice to take charge.
He told The Gazette: “I was more than happy to put my hand up because it’s a great young squad with a lot of potential.
“I did a stint as captain when Andy Kellett broke his hand a few years ago, so I’ve had some experience.
“We’re third in the table and you can’t ask for much more. This is what we’ve been building for and hopefully we can keep on improving.”
Just a point behind Chorley in the first division, StAnnes currently lead the Fylde coast challenge, though they trail leaders Netherfield by 25 points going into Saturday’s match at Penrith.
Armstrong added: “Netherfield could slip up but we need to concentrate on our own performances because there are still areas we can tighten up on.”
The new skipper hopes to set an example by finding form himself. Armstrong has managed just one half-century after shoulder surgery and admits it has been an “up and down” season so far.
St Annes are also without their professional at present after Matthew Breetzke returned to his homeland to represent South Africa Under-19s.
The all-rounder could be in action against West Indies in today’s one-day international.
St Annes haven’t found it easy to recruit substitute pros but are benefitting from the return of their esteemed opener Atiq Uz-Zaman.
Armstrong said: “Atiq has been coaching in Pakistan and he brings great experience to the side. His game-sense is also a big help to me as captain.”
Grindley said on passing the baton: “It’s been an absolute privilege to captain the club I’ve been at since I was a kid and I couldn’t have asked for a more from a brilliant set of lads, who I’m sure I’ll still be playing with for a long time
“I am fully committed to St Annes and hopefully to continuing our great start to the season, with my 100 per cent backing (to the new captain).”
Armstrong added: “It’s a huge honour to take on the responsibility of captain and one which I intend to give my all.
“Having looked at the young and talented team that Matthew among others have put together, the opportunity was too good to turn down.
“I have no doubt Matt will continue to give his all for the club. I believe we will continue to grow as a team and move in the right direction.”
Blackpool are also bound for Penrith this weekend.
The Cumbrians host the league’s Readers Twenty20 finals on Sunday.
Blackpool face league leaders Netherfield in the semis, with the winners to contest that afternoon’s final against Leyland or hosts Penrith.
Sunday is also semi-finals day in the Palace Shield’s Meyler Cup, in which Garstang face Thornton Cleveleys for the right to play Vernon Carus or Croston in next month’s final.
It’s a busy weekend for Blackpool, who ended their three-match losing run with a comfortable eight-wicket win at Barrow and they will be confident of building on that result on Saturday at home to bottom club Morecambe, who have only two wins to their name all season.
Blackpool are fifth, 10 points behind St Annes but 18 better off the Fleetwood, who can’t afford to lose any further ground but face a tough test at home to pace-setters Netherfield on Saturday.
Lytham kickstarted their Liverpool Competition campaign with four straight wins but have slipped back to eighth after losing their last two in the ECB premier league.
Danny Edwards’ side will be anxious to return to winning ways at home to Colwyn Bay and have opener Taylor Cornall in inspirational form, averaging over 70.
Northern Premier Cricket League:
Blackpool v Morecambe, Fleetwood v Netherfield, Kendal v Chorley, Lancaster v Barrow, Penrith v St Annes, Preston v Leyland
Liverpool Competition ECB premier league: Lytham v Colwyn Bay
Moore and Smalley Palace Shield
Premier Division: Eccleston v Rufford, Fulwood and Broughton v Croston, Garstang v Torrisholme, Longridge v Great Eccleston, Penwortham v Freckleton, Vernon Carus v Thornton Cleveleys,
Division One: Fylde v Vernon Carus 2, Hoghton v Fulwood and Broughton 2, Norcross v Longridge 2, South Shore v Whittingham and Goosnargh, White Coppice v New Longton, Withnell Fold v Garstang 2
Division Two: Grimsargh v Wrea Green, Kirkham and Wesham v Penwortham 2.
Readers Cup T20 Finals Day: Netherfield v Blackpol and Penrith v Leyland; final to follow
Moore and Smalley Palace Shield Meyler Cup: Garstang v Thornton Cleveleys, Vernon Carus v Croston