OVERSEAS all-rounder George Linde couldn’t have done more to get immersed in Lytham cricket life.
Lytham’s new South African professional is devoting his days to Church Road duties and is living at the home of club captain Antony Mulligan.
And his dedication is paying off, with the first team in fine Liverpool Competition form since the 20-year-old’s arrival, climbing to the top of the ECB Premier League with last week’s eight-wicket home win over Northern.
Lytham were the only one of the Fylde coast’s senior sides to beat the elements on a rain-ruined cricket weekend.
“Its going really well and I’m enjoying every moment,” Linde told The Gazette. The only problem is the weather. The English summer so far has been like winter in South Africa.”
But left-hander Linde knew what he was letting himself in for, as this is his second summer on the coast of northern England, having played for Grimsby on the eastern side of the country last year.
And although he is looking forward to a get-together with his old Grimsby colleagues shortly, there’s no doubt which side of the country Linde prefers.
“It’s much better living in Lytham,” he says. “There’s a lot more to do and I’m really busy every day. The Liverpool Competition is a good standard of cricket, better than I expected.”
Having reached the top of the table, the task facing Linde and his team-mates is staying there to clinch a second title in three seasons.
And Dominic O’Brien’s replacement as overseas pro sees no reason why they can’t do it.
He added: “We are top and going really well. I think this team is good enough to stay top of the table.
“There’s a lot of talent at the club. It’s a really good all-round team and I think we can have a real go at winning the title.
Linde was the last of the South African overseas signings to arrive on the Fylde coast this year, following Blackpool’s Dale Deeb and Fleetwood’s Shaun Liebisch, but he doesn’t believe missing the opening weeks of the campaign puts him at any disadvantage.
He said: “Not at all, I’ve fitted straight in here and I’m really enjoying it.”
Linde doesn’t know either of his countrymen on the local cricket scene, though he agrees with them that the wickets here are in stark contrast to what he is used to back home, where he made his first-class breakthrough with Western Provinces earlier this year.
“Yes, the pitches are really slow but it’s a good challenge. I’m really pleased with my form and I hope to contribute a bit more,” he said.
Linde contributed 3-48 to the win over Northern with his leg-spin, and has taken 13 wickets to date.
His best return so far has been 4-27 in the nine-wicket win over Southport and Birkdale.
With the bat, Linde has two half-centuries, his top score being an unbeaten 76 from 68 balls in the eight-run win at New Brighton.
Linde pinpoints all-rounder Ben Saunders as a talent to watch at the club, saying: “Ben can go a long way in the game if he works hard.”
Hard work is certainly something Linde enjoys. He coaches the club’s juniors on a Tuesday, and does sessions with the senior players each Friday, and he has still found time for a trip to London.
Tomorrow he will have to travel no further than Church Road, when Lytham host Bootle.
Lytham will again have Lancashire’s Oliver Newby in their ranks. The seamer took 3-54 on his debut for the club in the three-wicket win over Ormskirk a fortnight ago.
n The Fylde coast’s Northern Premier League clubs are looking forward to a return to action after last weekend’s washout, with all three sides away.
Third-placed Fleetwood head to Preston, while Blackpool are bound for Darwen, and St Annes continue their bid to climb away from the lower reaches at Kendal.
Fleetwood and Blackpool face a double-header, with Blackpool’s league match followed by a National Knockout regional final at Chorley on Sunday, when Fleetwood are at home to the Lancashire Cricket Board in the league, Fleetwood and St Annes did play each other in midweek, when the Broadwater club completed a TWP Wealth Twenty20 double.
The visitors won by 89 runs as Adam Parker top-scored with 53 from 30 balls in their 173-5. Mark Wilkinson chipped in with 32.
In reply, St Annes were dismissed for just 84 with 10 balls remaining after Atiq-uz-Zaman’s 27 had given them early hope. Naveed Yousaf did most damage with 4-11.