Blackpool Cricket Club ready for tough title defence

Northern League champions Blackpool will be the side everyone wants to beat when the 2022 season gets under way tomorrow, though captain Paul Danson says they will do their utmost to win the title for a record-extending 19th time.

By Andy Moore
Friday, 22nd April 2022, 12:30 pm

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It will be a tough task without three of last season's key players and at first without their Indian professional – Naushad Shaikh is still awaiting a visa in his homeland.

Danson told The Gazette: “We are on the back of a successful season, the first league and cup double since the 1980s, so everyone will target us but we'll give it our best shot.

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The Blackpool CC team that did the double last year

“You never know from season to season how strong the league will be, though we've lost two well-established teams in Fleetwood and Morecambe (relegated to the Palace Shield). Fleetwood will be a big loss for us this season because they are great derby games I always enjoyed playing in.

“You look are to see who has recruited well and to my eyes Garstang, Leyland and Netherfield look to have a lot of potential, and we play two of those first so it's a tough start.”

Tomorrow's visit of Leyland, followed by Twenty20 double-header on Sunday, start a big season for the Stanley Park club, with all the disruption of last year's work on the ground rewarded with three visits from the Lancashire senior men's team this summer.

Between them Blackpool and Leyland have won six of the last nine NPCL titles, though tomorrow's opener could be an all-amateur affair.

Danson explained: “We've done everything we can with the pro and we're just waiting for the call to get him over here. But unless we have a copy of the visa we can't even recruit a sub-professional, and I think Leyland are in the same situation with their pro in Pakistan.”

Danson has every confidence Naushad will worth waiting for: “At 30 he is a good age and we've heard lots of good reports. He's a batsman who bowls off-spin and is very keen to get involved in coaching at the club.

“He ticks all the boxes, so we hope he hits the ground running and wins matches for us because that's what we are paying him to do.

“Good a player as Shiv (last season's pro Shivam Chauhan) is, he didn't win us that many games. The matchwinners were mostly the amateur players, which is the sign of a good side.”

However, Blackpool have lost three of last year's key amateurs in batsmen Sam Dutton and Ciaran Johnson and outstanding spinner Matt Siddall.

Danson added: “Matt was the surprise but he is going to play at Cockermouth and we wish him and the other two well. It gives other lads a fantastic opportunity to step up and showcase their talent.”

They include Arran Lewin and Dylan Henshall, while Alex Ryder had joined the club

They include Aaron Lewin and Dylan Henshall, while all-rounder Alex Ryder has moved down the coast from Fleetwood