Fylde coast cricket preview: Thornton Cleveleys captain pleased to have done Palace Shield proud
The Illawalla club are the Shield’s sole representatives in the elite Fylde coast round-robin competition which concludes tomorrow, when they attempt to become the first club this summer to defeat group winners St Annes.
Sharing the group with three Northern Premier League sides and one from the Liverpool Competition, Thornton Cleveleys gave a good account of themselves in defeat to Fleetwood and Lytham.
Then last weekend came that stunning defeat of Blackpool, who were dismissed for 34 and beaten by 61 runs.
It was a day to remember for captain Daniel Howard, who is delighted to be representing the Palace Shield in distinguished company.
He told The Gazette: “It was great to get over the line. We only came back into the premier division last season after relegation.
“We said we’d try to give a good account of ourselves against opponents from this level and we’ve done that.”
“We could have won against Fleetwood and the Blackpool game was a bit of a shock. It wasn’t a high-scoring track but we were disappointed only to score 95.”
It was thanks largely to Jake Apperley that this total proved more than ample. His 7-14 from eight overs left Blackpool in disarray and his captain overjoyed.
Howard added: “We’d lost two bowlers to injury and so Jake opened the bowling, and he really grabbed his opportunity.”
Blackpool currently occupy second spot but have completed their group games. They could be overtaken by Thornton Cleveleys, should they deny St Annes the clean sweep, or by the winners of tomorrow’s Fleetwood v Lytham match.
“It will be tough at St Annes,” says Howard, “but after beating Blackpool we are really positive and will go there with the same attitude.”
After 30 years at the club, all-rounder Howard is relieved not to have missed a summer of cricket and is enjoying an abbreviated campaign which could run for a further six Saturdays.
Now 35, Howard has been in the first team for 20 years and captain for the past three.
He added: “It’s great to be playing cricket again. We know the spotlight is on team sport but all the regulations and measures are in place for us to play and for the spectators to enjoy the games.
“There was a concern about losing players to the sport if we weren’t able to play competitive cricket all summer.
“But we have a good core of lads who have been here for a long time and younger ones coming through, so there is a good mix of experience and younger players.”
All the groups at all four levels will be completed tomorrow, with the final placings used to draw up new groups for matches over the following three Saturdays.
The Fylde coast teams will be split up for the second stage and will face similarly-placed teams from each of the other three groups at their level.
It means that after an initial phase which focused on derbies, there will be more travelling involved as teams from further afield share the same group.
But that’s no issue to TC skipper Howard, who added: “We’ll wait and see who we come up against but we are open to travelling. For us, it’s probably easier to get to a club around Preston than travelling to Lytham. The travelling may be more of an issue for second and third teams, with more young players who don’t drive.
“We just want to keep playing and get as far as we can in the competition.”
Level 1 Group A: Fleetwood v Lytham, St Annes v Thornton Cleveleys
Group B: Fulwood and Broughton v Longridge, Great Eccleston v Garstang, Preston v Kirkham and Wesham
Group C: Chorley v Vernon Carus, Eccleston v Penwortham, Leyland v Euxton
Group D: Kendal v Lancaster, Netherfield v Morecambe
Level 2 Group A: Fylde v St Annes 2, Lytham 2 v Fleetwood 2, South Shore v Great Eccleston 2
Level 3 Group A: Grimsargh v Whittngham and Goosnargh, Thornton Cleveleys 2 v Ingol, Wrea Green v Blackpool 3
Level 4 Group A: Norcross v Fylde 2, Wyre v South Shore 2