Naveed has eyes on a treble success

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Naveed Yousaf doesn’t want to sound greedy but he wouldn’t mind winning the treble in his first full season with Fleetwood.

The all-rounder will bid to complete the first part of that silverware quest on Sunday, when Fleetwood have home advantage on finals day of the TWP Wealth Twenty20 tournament.

They face Leyland in the first semi-final.

The teams should have met in the Northern League last weekend, but a collapsed drain at Broadwater resulted in an abandonment which enabled Barrow to leapfrog Fleetwood at the top of the table.

The third trophy Fleetwood are chasing is the Readers Cup, in which they will meet Darwen in the semi-finals after a 27-run victory over Barrow last Sunday.

It has more than justified Naveed’s decision to leave his role as Norcross captain to play a part in Fleetwood’s amazing transformation from perennial strugglers into glory-chasers.

Naveed, who turned 40 this week, caught Fleetwood’s eye with a century for their seconds against St Annes last season and was then confronted with the difficult decision of whether to accept their offer of a permanent move.

He said: “I was at Norcross for five or six years, and I have a lot to thank the club for.

“They welcomed me into the club and gave me a lot of support.

“But the area is struggling to find new players coming through and were losing players too.

“It was a hard decision to leave, but I wasn’t enjoying my cricket there any more.

“Fleetwood offered me an opportunity to play in the Northern League and have made me feel at home.”

While it has been a tough season of toil for Norcross in Division One of the Palace Shield, Fleetwood have gone from strength to strength.

And Naveed may be a relative new boy, but he thinks he knows the reasons why. He said: “They are a great bunch of people who enjoy each other’s company.

“The secret is to take your cricket seriously, but enjoy it as well, and that is what is happening at Fleetwood.

“The change from last season is perhaps the professional, Shaun Liebisch, who has had a great influence on the side and keeps us focused on winning.

“The captain Mat Clark is inspirational too. I respect him and he keeps us on our toes.

“It’s a hard-working regime but Matt has good leadership qualities and he won’t accept anything less than victory.”

The next victory they are seeking is at Netherfield tomorrow to keep the pressure on Barrow at the division one summit.

A favour from neighbours St Annes, who visit the Cumbrians tomorrow, wouldn’t go amiss either, but given the miserable season the champions from Vernon Road are enduring, Naveed and co aren’t holding out too much hope of that.

Naveed, who manages a nursing home in Bolton, believes Fleetwood’s title destiny is in their own hands.

He added: “The weather has been horrendous this season, but that hasn’t stopped us winning games and we have momentum, which is vital.

“I have no doubt we can win the league, and I would love to be a bit selfish and say I have won the league and cup in my first season.”

Naveed admits he would have loved to have contributed some more runs, though he has cemented his place at the top end of the Fleetwood order.

His top score for the season is an unbeaten 73 against the Lancashire Cricket Board Academy, and his best bowling figures 4-11 from four overs against St Annes in the Twenty20.

He added: “There are times I have felt I could have contributed more, but the important thing is that the team is winning.

“As long as everyone is chipping in, we get the satisfaction as a team.

“I’m looking forward to this weekend. I think all forms of cricket are great but perhaps Twenty20 does suit me best.”

Fleetwood earned home advantage on Sunday by winning their Twenty20 group. Their semi-final starts at 11pm, followed by the Lancaster and Netherfield semi at 2pm. The final will follow at 5pm.

None of the Fylde coast’s senior sides are at home this weekend.

Blackpool visit Lancaster in the NPL tomorrow, while Liverpool Competition leaders Lytham aim to maintain their 26-point cushion in the ECB Premier League with victory at struggling Rainford.

Lytham skipper Antony Mulligan goes into the match in top form after a career-best 8-31 in the eight-wicket win over Southport and Birkdale last Saturday.