Ben Saunders’ second season as Lytham Cricket Club captain has got off to a nightmare start.
The all-rounder tore ankle ligaments in a collision with a fellow player in the warm-up match against Lancashire’s Under-19 and expects to sit out the first six weeks of the Liverpool Competition campaign.
But Saunders is hopeful that a strengthened Church Road side will make a determined start in the ECB premier league without him, beginning at home to Colwyn Bay this Saturday.
The skipper took a hat-trick to help Lytham win the final game of last season against Leigh and was looking forward to continuing where he had left off.
He told The Gazette: “I found myself in hospital and now I’m on crutches. There’s not much I can do except keep on icing it and wait for the swelling to go down, but I’ll be there to cheer the team on until I’m playing again.
“I’d set a target of 500 runs and 50 wickets this season, which I may have to adjust depending on how long I’m out.
“We’ve strengthened well and there could be a couple more signings still to come.”
Two of those additions have proven track records at this level: Ross Zelem from Leigh has scored more than 4,000 runs in all competitions, while Alex Mason topped 100 wickets in two league seasons with Ormskirk.
On top of that, Lytham can again call on the service of two of the Fylde coast’s senior professionals - Lancashire’s Steven Croft and Toby Lester - whenever their Red Rose commitments allow.
Throw into the mix the exciting left-handed batsman Scott Howarth, signed from Thornham CC, and a mouthwatering five months lies ahead for club.
It has raised hopes that a team which has had to settle for mid-table finishes in a hugely competitive league in recent years could mount more of a challenge in 2019.
Saunders added: “We are aiming for top four this time and a cup in some cup competitions - there are four to go at this season.
“But it will be tough because this competition just gets stronger. Whenever the top players leave one club, they just seem to go to another club in the comp.”