Blackpool Cricket Club can challenge for years says proud captain Paul Danson after first double since 1980s
Blackpool Cricket Club’s three-wicket win at St Annes completed the Northern Premier League’s first league and cup double for 32 years.
The Stanley Park club were the last ones to achieve the feat, back in 1989, and captain Paul Danson said: “I think I’m the only member of this team who was born when we last did it. The double is something we targeted and it’s a fantastic achievement.
“To go through the league season losing only one game is also something special. That first game at Fulwood and Broughton was a kick up the backside. We said we’d been caught cold and we hadn’t practiced properly with the ground situation (drainage work meant most of this season’s games were away).
“We’ve played some decent cricket and it’s been a real team effort with the wickets spread through the team.
“Ciaran Johnson and Sam Dutton have been up there with the league’s top run-scorers and we’ve played a good, attacking brand of cricket, bowling teams out and knocking the runs off quickly.”
It wasn’t quite so emphatic over the weekend, when Blackpool sealed their record-extending 18th NPCL title with a draw at Longridge on Saturday and a low-scoring win in Monday’s derby at St Annes, who go into their final game at Leyland this weekend not yet safe from relegation.
St Annes chose to bat against Blackpool but struggled to build any momentum, number three Nathan Bolus their top scorer with 30 in a modest total of 116 from 44.4 overs.
Blackpool’s Matt Siddall took a season’s-best 6-26 and did the damage in the crucial period which saw the hosts slump from 68-3 to 75-7.
Blackpool found batting anything but simple either as none of their top five reached double figures and victory was looking doubtful at 22-4 and later 62-6.
Wicketkeeper Ben Howarth’s unbeaten 37, which included six fours, eased any nerves and propelled his side to victory at 117-7 in 45.5 overs, despite three wickets apiece for Harry Birkman and St Annes captain Tom Higson.
Danson added: “It was only in these last two games we’ve had a bit of a wobble. We were staring down the barrel at Longridge but it was important we didn’t lose because that would have kept them in the hunt.
“I thought that game highlighted what a good side we are and it left us only needing six points at St Annes, who were fighting for their lives.
“They bowled and fielded really well and put us under pressure but we showed our fighting qualities again, and Ben and Jake (Muncaster) put their hands up.
“Matt Siddall is arguably the best left-arm spinner in the league and has got his recognition with Cumbria this season. He has 36 league wickets, so is up there with Grinders (Matt Grindley has 44).”
This is Blackpool’s third league title in four years if last-season’s two-month mini-competition is included and Danson believes there is more to come.
“We are on a bit of a roll and it’s a young side that should be together for a few more years,” he said.
“Most of the players have come through the juniors and the club is in a fantastic position to challenge each season.
“I would like to have seen us got further in the National Knockout and Lancashire Cup because we are a big club and we need to be challenging on the bigger stage.”
The one disappointment is that Indian professional Shivam Chauhan had to return home before the weekend to prepare for his domestic season.
Danson said: “I’m gutted for Shiv because he wanted to be here for the finish and he’s kept in touch since he went back home.
“He’s a destructive batsman but he didn’t get to bat all that much because we were so dominant in some games that he didn’t get in.
“Everyone loved having him around but I’d have to say it’s doubtful he will be back next year because he’s in the frame for the IPL, with some new franchises starting up, but that shows what a good player we had this year.”
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