Fylde coast cricket: Andrew Flintoff back in action for St Annes as son makes senior debut, heavy defeats for Blackpool and Fleetwood
Corey Flintoff’s Northern Premier League first XI debut alongside dad Andrew for St Annes provided a highlight in an otherwise forgettable opening day to the NPCL season for Fylde coast clubs.
At least St Annes, boosted by two generations of Flintoffs, contributed to an exciting contest before losing by four wickets at Morecambe, whereas Blackpool and Fleetwood went down heavily to Fulwood & Broughton and Longridge respectively.
Captain Tom Higson had told The Gazette that all-rounder Corey was ready to step up to first XI cricket this season. A more surprising selection was that of his dad to give the 15-year-old moral support.
The father and son were named at six and seven in the batting order but their hopes of batting together were dashed when Flintoff junior was dismissed by Morecambe’s Indian sub-professional Ashar Zaidi.
That brought the England great and Top Gear presenter, now 43, to the crease, but Flintoff also fell to Zaidi after scoring three for the club where his career began.
Those wickets left St Annes at 73-6 and it soon became 74-7 before a final-wicket stand of 42 between last man Harry Birkman (25 not out) and Nathan Armstrong (22) took the visitors to a more competitive 154-9.
St Annes, who had chosen to bat, had started brightly enough as captain Higson struck seven fours in his 36-ball 42 but Zaidi soon applied the brakes to the St Annes scoring, taking 4-22 from his 15 overs.
Andrew Flintoff, who last played for St Annes in 2014 shortly before his retirement, didn’t join the bowling attack but saw Corey take his first NPCL wicket, having Morecambe opener Gareth Peddar caught by skipper Higson for 17.
Charlie Swarbrick put the hosts in the driving seat with 55 from 94 balls, including 10 fours, though a wobble from 104-2 to 113-5 gave St Annes hope. However, Morecambe steadied their ship to seal victory at 157-6 with 11 deliveries remaining, despite Birkman’s 3-20.
The first NPL games since 2019 were hardly worth the long wait for Blackpool and Fleetwood, the latter dismissed for just 43 in a 152-run defeat by Longridge.
Staging the Fylde coast’s only match of the opening NPL weekend, Fleetwood were up against it from the start as openers Luke Platt (63) and Joshua Mullin (58) made hay after Longridge chose to bat.
Chesney Hughes and Jack Wilinson took two wickets apiece but could not prevent the visitors reaching 195-4.
Fleetwood then laboured 25 overs for their 43 and found Jonathan Millward (7-17) too hot to handle.
Top-scoring captain Adam Sharrocks (18) and Ben Reader were the only home players to reach double figures as none of the last five men in troubled the scorer. Caleb Bradford did not concede a single run from his four overs, also taking a wicket.
While Blackpool wait for their Indian professional Shivham Chauhan, they were destroyed by Fulwood and Broughton’s Abhey Negi, who inspired their 134-run defeat at Fulwood and Broughton.
Negi made 120 not out in the hosts’ 230-5 after being put in, then claimed 5-28 off nine overs as Blackpool were dismissed for 96.
The Indian, who came in with F&B at 36-2, faced 95 balls and struck eight fours and as many sixes, sharing an unbroken sixth-wicket stand of 103 with Jon Fenton (30). Blackpool’s Chris Baines alone took more than one wicket (2-49).
Blackpool had won the one-off competition which replaced the league last year but never looked like carrying on where they left off.
They stretched their reply to 26.1 overs after an even lower total looked likely at 55-7.
Opener Tomas King was Blackpool’s top scorer with 23 and sub-pro Sagar Trivedi made 10.
Other NPCL results: Kendal 161 drew with Chorley 157/8, Lancaster 179 lost to Netherfield 180/6 by four wickets, Leyland 173/7 lost to Garstang 174/5 by five wickets.
n In the opening day of Palace Shield action, Kirkham and Wesham won the derby at Fylde by five wickets, aided by an unbeaten 39 from Liam Castellas.
Will Thistlethwaite struck a first-day century for Great Eccleston in their victory over Penrith, but Dan Howard’s 94 could not save Thornton Cleveleys from defeat at Penwortham.
Moore and Smalley Palace Shield premier division: Barrow 58 lost to Vernon Carus 161 by 103 runs, Croston 112/2 (H Baker 49no) beat South Shore 108 (J Driver 5-29) by eight wickets, Eccleston 189/8 beat Preston 92 by 97 runs, Fylde 101 (K Moore 31, J Hogarth 5-19) lost to Kirkham & Wesham 102/5 (L Castellas 39no, U Abrar 4-60) by five wickets, Great Eccleston 240/7 (W Thistlethwaite 116, M Moat 51) beat Penrith 163 (G Cameron 41, A Craig 40, J Procter 5-33, J Davies 3-40) by 77 runs, Penwortham 251/9 (A Walmsley 51, MJ Brierley 49, C Parker 42, G Tirrell 3-55) beat Thornton Cleveleys 232 (D Howard 94, A Billington 4-49) by 19 runs.
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