Lytham and St Annes cricket captains can't wait to get the ball rolling

Lytham captain Ben Saunders
Lytham captain Ben Saunders
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Ben Saunders and Nathan Armstrong are looking forward to their first full season as captains of Lytham and St Annes respectively as the cricket campaign gets under way this Saturday for the Fylde clubs.

Ben Saunders and Nathan Armstrong are looking forward to their first full season as captains of Lytham and St Annes respectively as the cricket campaign gets under way this Saturday for the Fylde clubs.

St Annes start their Northern League season at home to Penrith, with a new professional in Pakistani all-rounder Amar Ullah and new recruits Mohammed Nadeem and Muhammad Imran-Sadiq from Great Eccleston.

Armstrong, who took the reins from Matt Grindley midway through last season, is bidding to build on 2017’s runners-up spot.

He said: “We’re looking good and have managed a couple of warm-up games, which a lot of clubs haven’t because of the weather.

“It’s also a boost that we aren’t waiting for our pro to arrive because Amar is based here and knows the English game (the slow left-armer played for Springview last year).Hopefully I’ve grown into the role and have those games from last season under my belt. I’m pleased we’ve added experienced players but the young ones, such as Richard Staines and Matt Yeadon, will have a key role.”

St Annes will face two new opponents this season in Garstang CC and Fulwood and Broughton CC following the introduction of promotion and relegation between the Northern League and Palace Shield.

Armstrong added: “I’m a big fan of the changes. Last season we were out of the cups and had lost a couple by mid-May, so we didn’t have a lot to play for. This keeps the interest going until the last game and you get to visit new grounds.”

Saunders takes the Lytham captaincy following fellow spinner Danny Edwards’ switch to Morecambe and is boosted by another new appointment off the field.

Australian Peter Buchanan has taken the coaching reins and is overseeing the seniors and juniors.

Having finished ninth in the Liverpool Competition’s ECB Premier League last season, Saunders hopes for better.

Ahead of the opening trip to Wallasey, he said: “Peter has settled in really well. He gets on so well with the lads, it is like he’s been here for years.”

“I want to be an aggressive captain, an attacking captain and hopefully that filters through to the results and we can push for a spot in the top four or five.

“The captaincy has been challenging but I’m just looking forward to getting going on the pitch now.”

Lytham can again call on Steven Croft and Toby Lester when their Lancashire commitments allow – Lester is named in the side for Wallasey – and have signed Matthew Taaffe from St Annes.”