Anthony Mulligan is confident Lytham Cricket Club can again lead the way in 2013 without him as leader.
Having led the Church Road side to the Liverpool Competition title twice in the last three seasons, all-rounder Mulligan is relishing his return to the ranks after handing the captaincy to long-serving team-mate Guy Roberts.
After a mixed start to the campaign, Lytham have returned to winning ways and are up to third in the ECB premier league, Mulligan’s playing no small part in their resurgence with a season’s best 4-33 in last weekend’s win over Fleetwood Hesketh.
Mulligan, who has taken over 100 wickets and scored close to 3,000 runs for the club, told The Gazette: “It’s really nice to be one of the boys again and I needed it personally.
“It was a great three years as captain, winning two titles, but I was looking forward to going back into the ranks. It was perfect timing for Guy, who was always looking to have a got at captaincy at some stage and deserved his chance.
“It helps me be able to concentrate on my bowling and batting. I’ve got a few wickets and hopefully I’ll get more as the weather gets warmer.”
Mulligan’s ongoing contribution and Roberts’ promotion bring welcome continuity at a club where little was broken and in need of fixing. And the return of overseas professional Dominic O’Brien after a season back home in Australia maintains the familiar family atmosphere at the club.
Mulligan (pictured) added: “Guy has retained most of the squad, with a couple of new faces.
“It’s great to have Dom back. He is part of the furniture here. He has a girlfriend from Lytham and he really feels part of the club and the community. He’s living at my place, so it’s just the same as before.”
Mulligan acknowledges that the odd new recruit to bring a fresh input and ideas can help, and the club achieved a massive coup in securing the services of Lancashire’s Alex Davies as opener for the season.
Davies, still 18 and honing his talents with Lancashire Seconds during the week, is prospering for Lytham at weekends and fired his third century in Sunday’s Ray Digman Knockout win at Maghull.
Davies further boosted his confidence with 69 for Lancashire in last week’s friendly against Leeds and Bradford Universities and Milligan added: “It does help when new guys come in and do well. Alex is great for us and I think this club is great for him too.
“He’s a really good guy who has got himself involved in the life of the club. He is really keen to do well and to help us win silverware, and he wants to play in as many games as he can.”
Davies and Lytham will be confident of continuing their winning form at home to mid-table Southport and Birkdale tomorrow.
Milligan added: “We had a bit of a sticky patch early in the season but we are back in the groove now.
“We are always confident at home and now we have two games at Church Road to look forward to, so hopefully our progress will continue (a week tomorrow second-placed Wallasey are the visitors for a crunch clash).”
And Milligan is hopeful that the side is yet to fulfil its potential. “We have a lot of developing and improving players,” he added. “I’ve been impressed by Will Hale and Ben Saunders this season, and I think the best is yet to come from the young spinners Ben Eckton and Danny Eckton - they will come into their own as the weather gets better.
“We are definitely in with a chance of the title again. Teams are beating each other and nobody is pulling clear.”
None of the Fylde coast’s Northern Premier League sides managed a victory last weekend and all hit the road in search of one tomorrow.
Blackpool are the most urgently in need of a win and they head to fellow strugglers Chorley anxious to halt a losing streak.
Fleetwood visit the fourth-placed Morecambe side that won at Stanley Park last weekend, while St Annes head to Darwen.