Seventh heaven... but did Jones set record?

Lee Jones appeals
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Lee Jones has got his club’s “stattos” on the case to check out whether he has made Fleetwood CC or even Northern Premier League history.

The wicketkeeper took seven catches in the champions’ four-wicket win over second-placed Leyland last Saturday and long-serving Jones is unaware of a haul to match it.

Lee Jones

Lee Jones

It marks the 35-year-old’s best return in 21 seasons with the club and he told The Gazette: “I’m not aware of any other wicketkeeper taking seven catches in an innings. It hasn’t happened in my time here and Micky Clinning, who has been at Fleetwood quite a few years too, says the same.”

Most important for Jones is that Fleetwood are starting to rediscover their title-winning form of 2012, recording back-to-back victories having failed to win any of this season’s first six division one fixtures.

And despite their early-season sticky patch, Jones is convinced Fleetwood still have every chance of defending their crown.

“I don’t think we’ve left it too late to challenge for the title again because there’s a long way to go,” he said.

“Barrow have made an early charge, but with 15 for a win there are still a lot of points at stake. We’re only one win off the top three.”

As for last weekend’s career-best feat, team player Jones was quick to direct the praise elsewhere.

“It was the quality of bowling more than anything,” he said.

“The pro got five wickets and the bowling was of a high standard from both ends. I only had to move for two of the catches. The pitch has improved too, which makes a difference.”

New professional Ian Holland claimed 5-62 from his 16 overs and Jones believes his impact is key.

He added: “The pro is fantastic. He knows his cricket and is top of our batting and bowling averages. Everyone likes him – he’s popular with the players, the juniors and the social members.

“It’s vital to get the right pro because it can go either way. If you get someone with a bad attitude, who the lads don’t like, your season could be ruined.”

With the right personnel on board, Fleetwood just needed one game to kickstart their season and Jones has no doubt which it was.

“The twenty20 win over Blackpool a couple of weeks ago definitely turned things around.

“We won off the last ball and had we lost we’d have sunk further into a hole.

“Our body language had been bad, but instead we gained momentum from that victory and we are getting into the winning habit again.”

Blackpool’s fortunes have gone in the opposite direction since then and the Stanley Park side will be anxious to return to winning ways at home to Morecambe tomorrow.

Two division one defeats last weekend can’t have helped confidence, their crushing 10-wicket defeat by Kendal last Saturday carrying over into Sunday, when they were edged out by two runs against the Lancashire Cricket Board Colts.

The plus points from that match were Alex Smith’s swashbuckling 85 and Ben Eckton’s hugely promising 4-31.

It’s another Saturday which sees all the Fylde coast’s NPL clubs at home, with St Annes hoping visitors Leyland suffer a hangover from their defeat by Jones-inspired Fleetwood, who in turn face Kendal.

It’s a busy weekend for Lytham in the Liverpool Competition. Guy Roberts’ fourth-placed champions are at home to Fleetwood Hesketh in the ECB premier league tomorrow, then visit Maghull in the Ray Digman Knockout Trophy on Sunday.