Fylde coast cricket preview: Lytham pro's instant impact as top two meet on Saturday
Lytham skipper Matt Taaffe believes the wait was worth it after seeing Zia-ur-Rehman Akbar in action for the first time.
The Afghan spinner made his debut for the club in last weekend’s Liverpool Competition First Division meeting with Highfield.
An eagerly anticipated arrival, he had been made to quarantine for 10 days back at home before flying to England and quarantining for a further 10 days.
Nevertheless, Akbar took 4-54 off his 22 overs, though he couldn’t prevent his side from losing by 38 runs.
Taaffe told The Gazette: “We couldn’t have asked for a better start from him, he’s a really nice guy.
“You can see the class with his spin bowling straight from the off.
“We only got him on Friday night after his 10-day hotel quarantine, so he’s not had that much preparation time himself to go out and bowl 20-odd overs straight away.
“It’s good news for me because I can bowl him even more!
“That was a credit to him, his first day free (from quarantine) he played a game of cricket and got four in a new group, new environment and a new culture.
“Especially with the ball in hand, he looks a different class.”
Taaffe was, however, disappointed in Lytham’s inability to chase down the total set for them by Highfield.
He top-scored with 56 but was one of just three players to reach double figures on the day, Joshua Holden weighing in with 33.
Defeat sees Lytham eighth in the table going into tomorrow’s trip to Ainsdale, who sit one place and three points above them.
Taaffe said: “It was very disappointing in the end. Obviously the batting let us down, we never really got above double figures and there was only one partnership.
“We just really needed a couple more to stick around and we would have got over the line with ease.
“They bowled well, they’re a good side, but there’s no excuse for throwing that game away.
“It was nice to contribute as captain. When you do well personally and don’t get over the line for a win, it just doesn’t really do it for you.
“On a personal note, I’m looking to carry on from that knock and produce a few more runs for the team but the main focus for me is to start winning some games and to get us back to the top of the table.
“We’ve got a big game away at Ainsdale and we’ve just got to get some points on the board and get moving up the table to where we want to be. That’s the number one priority.”
Elsewhere, tomorrow’s Northern Premier Cricket League programme sees a battle of the top two with Blackpool travelling to leaders Longridge.
Blackpool’s win at Chorley last weekend saw them climb into the top two after Longridge and Netherfield – who had been second – both lost.
St Annes can make it three wins in a row as they travel to a Fleetwood side sitting bottom of the table.
Northern Premier League (12.30pm): Fleetwood v St Annes, Kendal v Garstang, Lancaster v Chorley, Leyland v Netherfield, Longridge v Blackpool, Morecambe v Fulwood and Broughton..
Liverpool Competition first division (12pm): Ainsdale v Lytham.
Moore and Smalley Palace Shield Premier Division (1.30pm): Barrow v Thornton Cleveleys, Croston v Preston, Eccleston v Kirkham and Wesham, Fylde v South Shore, Great Eccleston v Vernon Carus, Penwortham v Penrith.
Division 1B: Fulwood and Broughton 2 v Fleetwood 2, St Annes 2 v Blackpool 2.
Division 2: Thornton Cleveleys v Wrea Green.
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