Fleetwood CC skipper pleased with their start

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Fleetwood CC skipper Declan Clerkin is happy his players have perhaps answered a few questions in the early stages of the 2024 season.

After a sixth-placed finish last year, five victories and a winning draw in their first seven matches see Fleetwood top of the table.

They are two points clear of Chorley, with a game in hand, as they prepare for tomorrow’s trip to Blackpool (12.30pm).

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It is Clerkin’s first season as captain at Broadwater, having been the deputy to Adam Sharrocks.

Fleetwood captain Declan Clerkin is in his first year as skipper Picture: Daniel MartinoFleetwood captain Declan Clerkin is in his first year as skipper Picture: Daniel Martino
Fleetwood captain Declan Clerkin is in his first year as skipper Picture: Daniel Martino
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He told The Gazette: “It’s going alright, so let’s hope it stays that way!

“Before the season, I think there were a few teams that didn’t rate us.

“With the squad we had, we had a decent year last year and made a few decent signings.

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“We knew we would build on last year and progress, so there’s a feeling that we’ve made a nice start.”

That two-point cushion could have been six had Fleetwood managed victory against Settle last weekend.

Defending their 193 all out, Clerkin’s players took wickets at regular intervals when Settle batted.

However, a 10th wicket was elusive as Settle finished on 182-9 and left Fleetwood with 11 points instead of 15.

“We’re in a really good position,” Clerkin said.

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“There’s a good mood in the camp and, bowling-wise, we’re really strong at the moment.

“Batting-wise, we have depth, but – like most teams – we haven’t really fired as yet because the weather hasn’t helped.”

While derby matches always have that element of extra significance, tomorrow’s meeting is one that might carry more importance for one team than the other.

Four abandonments in nine games leave Blackpool sixth in the table, 19 points behind Fleetwood and having played two more matches.

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Clerkin’s opposite number at Stanley Park, Paul Danson, has flagged up the need for his players to start putting together results in closing that gap.

Fleetwood’s captain said: “We’ve been looking forward to this one, especially with the start we’ve had.

“They have had a few mixed results but this is the reason why you play cricket, it’s one of the biggest games of the year.

“I would never rule Blackpool out of any competition because we’ve perhaps been a bit lucky with the weather and they haven’t.

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“We’ve managed to play and sneak over the line when others have been abandoned or had losing draws. It’s been frustrating for a lot of clubs.”

That frustration has been there for most of the year, given the weather-enforced later start to the season.

Wet conditions meant outdoor practice was at a premium, never mind being able to fit in friendlies before the campaign eventually got underway.

Batters, in particular, have been left trying to play their way into form; not easy when, by definition, they are one good ball, a bad shot, a great catch or a poor umpiring decision away from all their preparations counting for little.

“The wickets have been difficult,” Clerkin acknowledged.

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“They have been slow and low but it’s been the same everywhere.

“A few of the lads were struggling but I told them to look around the league.

“Lots of other batters are struggling and, at the end of the day, it’s 11 against 11 and we play on the same wicket.”