Overseas stars shine in double-whammy week

Blackpool v Preston cricket. Pictured is Con de Lange for Blackpool.
Blackpool v Preston cricket. Pictured is Con de Lange for Blackpool.
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LEADERS St Annes CC recorded back-to-back Northern Premier League wins over the weekend but still can’t shrug off champions Leyland.

While St Annes followed a 12-point derby win over Fleetwood with a 15-point victory at Barrow yesterday, Leyland achieved identical points tallies against and Darwen to remain 13 points behind in the division one title chase.

Overseas duo Dinuk Hettiarachchi and Atiq Uz-Zaman were St Annes’ star performers.

Sri Lanka spin pro Dinuk claimed 13 wickets in the two matches, while Pakistani opener topped 150 runs and claimed a thrilling hat-trick.

Atiq’s 55 yesterday was the backbone of St Annes’ 157, though they would have anticipated a higher total after he and Nanthesh Kiruparan put on 66 for the first wicket. The visitors then stumped to 114-8 as Barrow pro Pieter Malan took 6-40 but then Neil Bradley (26) nursed the tail with some late-order runs which proved decisive.

St Annes won by 42 runs as Hettiarachchi grabbed 6-32, including five lbws and the prize scalp of Malan for 17, though those runs were enough to take him past 1,000 for the season – the first player this year to reach the milestone.

Matt Grindley backed up Dinuk with 3-19 as the hosts were all out for 115 (Guy Heffernan 31).

On Saturday, Uz-Zaman grabbed his first career hat-trick and then hit an unbeaten century as St Annes brushed derby visitors Fleetwood aside by eight wickets.

The former Pakistan Test wicket keeper even eclipsed pro Hettiarachchi, who had taken the first seven Fleetwood wickets to fall at Vernon Road.

Hettiarachchi, who took his seasonal tally to 78 wickets over the weekend, gave a superb display, taking 7-37 off 23 overs. Fleetwood wicketkeeper Dean Bell defied the off-spinner’s wiles to compile a high-class 65 of 95 balls in his side’s 157.

However, the innings was ended in sensational style by Hettiarachchi’s fellow off-spinner Atiq, who pinned captain Mat Clark leg before, bowled Kieran McGann and then had Tom Wilson caught in the deep by Ben Willis for 35.

Atiq followed that with a superb unbeaten 102 off 109 balls, including 19 fours .

His third league century of the season saw him pass 800 runs for the campaign as he put on 123 with teenager Nathan Bolus (42 not out) in an unbroken third-wicket stand.

Blackpool are up to fifth place after two thrilling Stanley Park encounters, following a nailbiting draw against Preston with a nerve-wracking two-wicket win over Lancashire Colts.

Yesterday, the Colts reached 190-8 thanks Rob Jones’ 43 and a late 27 off 12 balls by Liam Hurt, who hit three fours and two sixes.

Andy Furniss led the Blackpool reply with 43 and pro Con De Lange (37) maintained the previous day’s good form but the home side were helped to their target by 35 extras (Chris Benbow 3-38).

Saturday’s match at Stanley Park could have gone either way, but ended in a thrilling draw, as Preston closed on 194-9 in pursuit of Blackpool’s 201-6.

For the second time this season, guest star Steven Croft didn’t produce the expected fireworks for Blackpool, trapped lbw by Preston skipper Lukman Vahaluwala without scoring.

Vahaluwala, who bowled at England’s Test batsmen at Loughborough last week as part of their preparations for the Second Test against India, finished with 4-70 after three of Blackpool’s top four had managed just a single between them.

South African De Lange spearheaded the recovery, with a superb 119 not out off 146 balls. The professional’s first century for the club included 12 fours and two sixes into the Ladies’ Pavilion. In-form Furniss (47) and Richard Gleeson (23) lent valuable support.

De Lange completed an excellent day’s work with 4-41, as Lancashire star Croft made amends for his batting disappointment with three wickets – just as he had on this season’s previous Blackpool appearance against Lancaster.

Fleetwood haven’t managed a league win in two months but they at least registered a home draw with Lancaster yesterday.

Off-spinner Ben Simm bowled unchanged at Broadwater, where his 6-86 included a hat-trick and restricted Fleetwood to 177-8.

Simm’s last over saw home pro Ryan Smith stumped, then captain Matt Clark and Scott Richardson both caught at mid-off, all off successive balls.

Adam Parker was the Fleetwood mainstay with 66, then Aussie pro Smith did his utmost to force a win with 5-96 from 25 overs. However, his Lancaster counterpart Dwayne Hees dug in for 36 as his side held on at 160-9,

Third-placed Blackpool remained in contention for the division two title with a 21-run victory at Preston, who were dismissed for just 97. Poss Parker claimed 4-25 and Nathan Bird 3-11.

St Annes defeated Fleetwood by six wickets in a high-scoring game at Broadwater.