St Annes CC skipper calls for consistency going into the new cricket season
Tom Higson is hoping for a more consistent St Annes campaign in his first full Northern Premier Cricket League season as captain, starting at Morecambe on Saturday.
In the last NPCL season of 2019, the Vernon Road club failed to win a match in the first half of the campaign but came strong in the second, winning the league’s 40-over competition along the way.
It was the other way around in the shortened, Covid-affected 2020 season, as St Annes defeated all their Fylde coast rivals in the initial group stage, only to fade in a one-off tournament won by Blackpool.
Off-spinner and all-rounder Higson’s hopes for 2021 are, therefore, to start strongly and maintain standards, though like all clubs they were able to get into the nets only two weeks ago as lockdown restrictions began to ease.
The excitement over the coming season has been accompanied by sadness following the death of club president Harry Hargreaves, aged 93.
Higson told The Gazette: “I think we’re ready. We’ve had two good weeks of practice. We started the day after lockdown eased and it’s good for everyone to be back together.
“We had kept in contact through our group chat but it did get a bit boring when we couldn’t actually get together.
“It’s good to get out of the house and we had an inter-club match over the weekend to get us up to speed.
“We start under the restrictions we are used to from last season, though hopefully they can be eased soon and people can start coming to watch again.
“We would like to think we will be in contention this year. The hope is to get off to a better start than in 2019, which takes the pressure off, and I think everyone is excited.”
St Annes are far from the only club to have had difficulties recruiting a professional in the current climate.
Higson said: “There have been a couple of hiccups when we’ve been close to signing a pro. Hopefully we can get somebody signed to help us step up this year.
“More clubs are trying to sign UK-based pros this year because of the travel situation, so the demand has been much higher.”
There will be some changes in the St Annes ranks for 2021 following the departures of wicketkeeper Richard Staines (to Lytham) and Ben Reader (to Fleetwood) but Higson added: “We are happy to have signed Luke Jardine (from South Shore) and it will be good to see how some of our youngsters go this year.
“Harry Birkman and Corey Flintoff are both just about ready to step up from the seconds this season.”
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