Captain Saunders set for Lytham charge: Fylde coast cricket preview

Ben Saunders
Ben Saunders
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Lytham CC captain Ben Saunders hopes Saturday’s home game against league leaders Northern can be the start of a push to the top four.

READ MORE: Steven Croft's Lancashire Cricket column
Lytham have had an inconsistent start to their Liverpool and District ECB Premier League season with three wins, one draw and four defeats.

One of those wins came last weekend with a nine-wicket win at New Brighton but they now face a stern test in the guise of the league leaders.

However, Saunders believes his eighth-placed side can kick on and climb the league after an inconsistent start hampered by injuries.

He said: “We have had a very indifferent season. We’ve been fantastic in some games and some games we have been awful.

“We have had a lot of players missing due to injuries, about five or six at times, so you can understand why it has been a mixed season so far.

“We have players coming back now and next week we should be back to full strength.

“We are still aiming for a top four finish. I think that is possible and that we can push on from here.”

Saunders picked up 5-21 against New Brighton on a day when Lancashire’s Steven Croft scored 41 runs as they successfully chased down their 80-run target.

Croft has been available for Lytham having been left out lately by Lancashire and Saunders expects him to be figure against Northern this weekend.

He said: “It was good to have him back, he did really well.

“It was a really professional performance and he is currently down to start at the weekend unless he gets called back to Lancashire.”

Croft’s old club, Blackpool, are currently top of the Northern Premier Division but, according to former bowler Richard Gleeson, there is still room for improvement if they want to end the season by lifting the title.

He said: “It is just about the young lads stepping up now.

“They have had a good few seasons and there are some good players in there.

“It is about getting those big performances over the line in those close games.

“I think there have been a couple of ties already this season.

“Those are the games that can help you win the league it at the end of the season.

“So they have to keep pushing and doing the right things.”

The Fylde coast clubs occupy three of the top four places in cricket’s Northern Premier League and will be hopeful of continuing their good starts.

Leaders Blackpool will expect a tough test against a Morecambe side who have won four of their last five and inflicted St Annes’ first defeat last weekend.

That left St Annes 12 points behind Blackpool but they will be confident of a maximum haul against winless bottom club Preston, while back-to-back wins have lifted Fleetwood into fourth before they entertain Barrow.

The Fylde coast’s NPL trio are in action again on Sunday, when St Annes stage the last of the Readers T20 group double headers to determine the south division one winners.

St Annes face Blackpool at noon before the hosts take on Fleetwood at 3.30pm.

Blackpool and Fleetwood go into the deciding day having won two out of three, while St Annes have lost both away fixtures. Blackpool's noses are in front on run rate, which could yet prove decisive. Should St Annes win both games, all three teams will finish on four points.

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

Liverpool Competition ECB premier league: Lytham v Northern

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

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