Blackpool Cricket Club professional Naushad Shaikh makes up for lost time

Blackpool Cricket Club’s 2022 professional Naushad Shaikh is definitely making up for lost time.

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An agonising wait for a work visa delayed the Indian all-rounder’s arrival until four weeks ago, by which time the Northern Premier League season was almost halfway through.

It’s no secret that the champions were close to giving up on the 30-year-old Maharashtra state player for this year, but their patience has been rewarded.

Blackpool professional Naushad Shaikh

Blackpool have won all five games since Naushad’s arrival and he gave his best performance yet in last weekend’s seven-wicket home win over Lancaster, scoring his second half-century and taking a first five-wicket haul with his off-spin.

Naushad certainly feels at home already and told The Gazette: “I was supposed to come early and applied in March for my visa. I don’t why it took three months but people leaving Ukraine was a factor.

“I was determined to come. I’ve heard a lot about UK cricket and wanted to visit and experience it for myself.

“I’ve never visited England before because other commitments prevented that but this year I had three or four months free. I wanted the experience in a country where the ball swings and conditions are different to what I am used to.”

Naushad is impressed by the standard of the NPL and added: “I am enjoying it but I found it difficult when I first arrived. The bowlers are not very quick but are very good at using the conditions to make the ball swing and seam.

“The main bowlers also bowl a very good line and length. That is good experience for me and the batsmen are gritty and play well.

“Everyone is very co-operative and supportive. When I first arrived my captain and chairman made me feel very much at home. I’m living in Blackpool and it’s lovely to go to the seaside.”

The winning run has left second-placed Blackpool 32 points behind leaders Garstang ahead of tomorrow’s visit to Chorley.

Naushad added: “I feel that we are playing really well as a team.

“We have to try to win every game because if Garstang lose one the table could look very different.

“Our opener Tomas King is playing really well, and Matt Grindley and Jamie Thomson are very good bowlers.

“We have some nice prospects coming through and Paul Danson (captain) binds it all together.”

He is also seeing some of the young prospects at first hand.

“I’m coaching the under-10s and doing many one-on-ones,” said Naushad, who hopes to stay for the rest of the season but may be required for state camps back home at the end of this month ahead of the domestic season.