It’s tough enough for an 18-year-old South African to spend several months away from his family on the Fylde coast, but this week new St Annes Cricket Club professional Matt Breetzke has also had to contend with the worst of British summer weather.
Culture shocks don’t come much more shocking than that experienced by the teenaged all-rounder, who has never spent more than a few weeks away from his family before.
The South Africa Under-19 player has certainly been thrown in at the deep end, arriving several weeks into the season after St Annes finally abandoned hope of the Indian Saurabh Bandekar solving his visa issues.
He told The Gazette: “It all happened very quickly. I had been ready to come to England anyway to play for Worthing, then St Annes came in for me and it all happened in around a week.
“It is tough when you are only 18. I’ve never gone more than a month without seeing my family before but I’m getting used to it.
“There are a lot of responsibilities as professional, and it is tougher when you are so young. The first week was particularly tough but I’m coping.
“The conditions here are very different to what I’m used to and the pitch wasn’t great for the first match ,but it’s getting better and hopefully we’ll get some good weather.”
Breetzke will be able to return home at the end of the month for a few weeks as he represents his country against West Indies.
Those Under-19 commitments are the reason the stint with Worthing fell through but Breetzke has no doubts he has joined the right club.
“Meeting all the lads here has made it easier,” he said. “I’ve already seen that there are some good teams in this league and some good players at this club. I think the future looks bright for St Annes.”
Breetzke has passed 50 in two of his four Northern League innings to date.
He reckons he got a harsh LBW call when out for 96 against Kendal and goes into tomorrow’s match at home to Morecambe in good nick after scoring 56 in last weekend’s comfortable win over former leaders Chorley.
He was a specialist wicketkeeper back home but won’t be wearing the gloves at St Annes, preferring to offer his services as a medium-pace bowler as well as batting number three.
It’s been quite a year for Breetzke, who represented South Africa Under-19s against Sri Lanka in January and made his first-class bow for Eastern Province the following month.
Now he hopes for more success with St Annes, who have climbed into the top four of the first division after back-to-back wins.
“We’re taking it a game at a time but there’s no doubt the potential is there at St Annes,” he added.
St Annes are the only one of the Fylde’s coast’s senior clubs at home tomorrow, when leaders Blackpool head to Preston and Fleetwood visit Penrith.
Blackpool are at home on Sunday against Prestwich in the LCB Knockout Cup.
Lytham entertain Littleborough in the same competition that day but are without a fixture in the Liverpool Competition tomorrow.
Without a permanent professional for the rest of the season, Blackpool have engaged Rochdale CC’s Henry Cooper this weekend.