Mulligan’s case for the defence

The Lytham St Annes Express trophy, between Lytham and St Annes Cricket Clubs, was held at St Annes Cricket Club. With the trophy is  Lytham captain Antony Mulligan.

The Lytham St Annes Express trophy, between Lytham and St Annes Cricket Clubs, was held at St Annes Cricket Club. With the trophy is Lytham captain Antony Mulligan.

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CHAMPIONS Lytham Cricket Club are there to be shot at in the Liverpool Competition this season, but such is the feelgood factor at the club that Anthony Mulligan’s side would fancy their chances of swatting the bullets away for six.

This time last year, captain Mulligan’s men never expected to end the season as ECB premier league winners but now he sees no reason why they shouldn’t mount a successful defence in the 2011 campaign which gets under way this weekend.

“We have all last season’s senior players back, as well as (Australian) professional Dominic O’Brien who is back already, and everyone has renewed enthusiasm,” he said.

“We also have a good production line coming through the junior ranks to give us depth.”

Ed Saunders, an off-spinner involved with Lancashire, is just one of the up-and-coming players bidding to break through. “It’s mad down there on Friday nights,” said Mulligan of the weekly junior sessions which have become increasingly popular. But which proud parents wouldn’t want their cricket-crazy children to learn the game at a champion club? But Mulligan is well aware that retaining the title of top dogs will be tougher this year.

“I expect that the clubs which are traditionally strong – New Brighton, Colwyn Bay, Bootle and Ormskirk – will be again, but the newly promoted Leigh side could challenge too.” They can call on the services of Lancashire’s Karl Brown and former St Annes bowler Michael Baer.

Lytham’s season starts with Saturday’s visit to Maghull for the first of three Building Finance Knockout Trophy group games, before the title defence begins in earnest next month.

And they have already won one piece of silverware before the first ball of the season is bowled.

They defeated an admittedly understrength St Annes side by 61 runs in a cobweb-blowing friendly for the Lytham St Annes Express Trophy last weekend, when Alan Flood smashed a 36-ball 58.