Captain Paul Danson believes Blackpool CC’s Readers Cup triumph could play a massive part in the development of his youthful side.
Not only did his up-and-coming charges lift silverware courtesy of their 36-run win over Leyland in the Northern Premier League’s 40-over knockout showpiece, they also had the inspirational benefit of playing alongside two Lancashire players.
Steven Croft made his third successive cup appearance for his hometown team, while Old Trafford team-mate Liam Livingstone served as Blackpool’s professional in the final in the absence of the injured Richard Gleeson.
Croft fired 77 and fellow all-rounder Livingstone, a 20-year-old Red Rose second-teamer from Barrow, topped the scoring with 84 to lay a victory platform for a largely inexperienced Blackpool side.
Danson said: “With the make-up of our side we thought we’d bat first and try to put a total on the board to defend.
“ Livingstone and Croft was a belter of a partnership and they really should both have gone on to score tons. Even so, we got a decent total (238).
“We went into the season knowing the league would be a struggle because our squad is lacking in depth and we have some junior players who aren’t really ready yet.
“Steven is a Blackpool lad and it means a lot to him.
“My side is stacked with young lads and when they see Crofty it’s brilliant for them, and what an experience for them.
“Steven and Liam give us that bit of batting we’ve been lacking. All season we’ve probably been two batsmen short of being a good side.
“Liam looks to be in a rich vein of form. It will be good to see if he earns a Lancashire contract and he has done himself no harm with back to back hundreds in the Seconds. He’s a very good fielder too.
“But he is in competition with a hell of a lot of talented players. We are blessed in Lancashire but the county keep on bringing in players from outside.”
Croft too has found himself out of favour at Old Trafford this season, though he has been recalled to the four-day side for the current second division clash with Hampshire at Southport.
Danson added: “Steven seems in good spirits and I’m surprised he isn’t in the side. He is still one-day captain and I don’t see as he has done a lot wrong.”
One disappointment for Danson was the absence of stalwart seamer Gleeson from last Saturday’s triumphant side due to a back injury.
The captain added: “The good thing is that Rick went with us to Leyland and so was part of the day.
“He got the injury playing for Cumberland but he has carried on playing with us on Saturdays because he knows we need him.
“When you have an English pro it’s hard to find a replacement, especially at this stage of the season.”
Danson hopes his younger players will reap the rewards of their cup success and the plan is to blood more of them in the final two league matches of the season, both at Stanley Park.
The captain added: “We want to play a couple of young lads who have done well in the juniors and deserve a chance against Morecambe on Saturday.
“But we have to make sure we are competitive because our last game is against (joint leaders) Barrow, so we will have a say in who wins the title.”
Danson favours Leyland to bounce back from their cup final disappointment to overhaul the long-time leaders and take the NPL title.