Fylde coast cricket preview: Lytham confident ahead of top-two clash

Lytham Cricket Club face one of their crunch clashes of the season tomorrow but captain Matt Taaffe has every reason to be full of confidence.

By Andy Moore
Friday, 29th July 2022, 4:45 pm

“The club is flying,” says the skipper, going into the battle of the Liverpool Competition first division’s top two at Church Road.

Second-placed Liverpool are the visitors for the high noon showdown, leaders Lytham having opened up a 26-point gap after beating fourth-placed Rainford two weeks running.

However, with a maximum 25 points for a win in this league, there’s still everything to play for as Taaffe told The Gazette.

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He said: “Yes, it’s a big top-of-the-table clash. We opened up a bit of a gap last weekend but there’s still not much margin for error.

“To have taken 45 points out of 50 against a top-four side in our last two matches shows we are playing good cricket but Liverpool will be a challenge.

“We thought they would be up there. They have a good pro – an Afghan left-armer (Zohaib Khan Zamankhail).

“We had one of those last year (Zia-ur-Rehman Akbar) and we know what they can do.”

Lytham have an exceptional pro of their own in Akash Vashist. The Indian has five centuries and two more 50s to his name, having only arrived in late May after a visa delay.

Taaffe said: “He’s been brilliant – the best I’ve seen. He’s firing on all cylinders and has shown he is different class but we haven’t relied on him. The others have played their part.

“Toby Lester, Tom Hessey and Josh Holden have shared the wickets, and with the bat, I’ve had some good partnerships with Akash. I like batting with him because it takes the pressure off me.”

The feelgood factor has filtered down throughout the club as the captain explained.

He added: “The seconds are doing well in their premier division, the thirds are top, the Under-12s and 15s have won their leagues and the 14s are top too. The club is in a great position.”

So much so that the absence of Steven Croft has hardly been mentioned.

Blackpool’s finest is yet to turn out for the club this season – he has been captaining Lancashire in the County Championship this week in yet another excellent campaign for the Red Rose stalwart.

“We hope we might see Steven for one game and he’d like that to happen,” says Taaffe.

“If we don’t see him, it means he’s doing well and so are we.”

TOMORROW’S FIXTURES

Northern Premier League (12.30pm): Blackpool v Lancaster, St Annes v Fulwood and Broughton.

Liverpool Competition First Division (12pm): Lytham v Liverpool.

Moore and Smalley Palace Shield premier division (1pm): Eccleston v Kirkham and Wesham, Fleetwood v Barrow, Great Eccleston v Preston, Thornton Cleveleys v Morecambe.

Division 1A (1pm): Hoghton v Fylde.

Division 1B (1pm): Fulwood and Broughton v Fleetwood 2, Garstang 2 v Blackpool 2, Longridge 2 v Great Eccleston 2, Penwortham 2 v Thornton Cleveleys 2.

Division 2 (1pm): Gregson Lane v Norcross, Whittingham and Goosnargh v St Annes 2, Wrea Green v Fulwood and Broughton 3.