Fylde cricket preview: Fleetwood making themselves at home in NPCL

​​It comes as no shock that Fleetwood Cricket Club have found their feet quickly back in the Northern Premier League – they had, after all, been members for seven decades before spending 2022 in the Palace Shield.
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Fleetwood flying after four wins in a row

It is, perhaps, surprising that a third of the way through the season they are leading the Fylde coast challenge in the NPCL as the only one of our three clubs in the top four.

It comes after such a tough start for the promoted Shield champions, which kicked off against last year’s top two, Garstang and Blackpool, before they faced a Longridge side currently 10 points clear at the summit.

Fleetwood coach Atiq-uz-Zaman is away with the German national teamFleetwood coach Atiq-uz-Zaman is away with the German national team
Fleetwood coach Atiq-uz-Zaman is away with the German national team
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However, the experience and character in the camp ensured that although that testing trio of fixtures passed without a win, the Broadwater team stayed calm and have since climbed the table with four straight victories.

Last weekend, Fleetwood held their nerve for a nailbiting one-wicket victory at Eccleston: a further boost ahead of this weekend’s home double-header in league and cup.

Director of cricket Andy Singleton told The Gazette: “We were only out of the Northern for one year, so we were well aware of what the gulf in standards was.

“We knew what our own strengths and weaknesses were, so we could plan properly for the season and look forward to it with relish.

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“It was quite a tough start but we were disappointed not to come away with the spoils from two of those first three games.

“Those matches taught us that you have to be able to win ugly. It isn’t all about caressing the ball – sometimes you have to dig deep and the response has been fantastic.”

A captain’s knock by Adam Sharrocks featured prominently in the Eccleston win and Singleton singles out the contributions of South African professional Tiaan van Vuuren, who already has three 50s and two five-fors to his name.

“The pro has settled in really well and has come to the fore whenever the amateurs have struggled,” he said.

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“When he hasn’t come to the fore, he has given the amateurs the confidence to step up. The last couple of wins have been really good team efforts.”

The junior section does not advance beyond under-14s, posing problems in terms of players graduating to the first team, but Singleton adds: “The youth section is strong, with lads playing in the Sunday XI and the seconds. Players are coming through and George McAleer (younger brother of wicketkeeper Harry) plays for the first team this week.”

After bidding for a third straight Readers T20 win against St Annes last night, Fleetwood’s Saturday visitors are a Kendal side immediately above them in third place, followed by an opening 40-over Cup clash on Sunday against a Netherfield team they have already beaten in the league.

The Broadwater side must do it the hard way, without injured bowler Jeremy Davies and coach Atiq-uz-Zaman, who is away with the German national side and has Fleetwood favourite Declan Clerkin on his backroom team.

TOMORROW’S FIXTURES

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Northern Premier League (12.30): Fleetwood v Kendal, Longridge v St Annes, Netherfield v Blackpool

Liverpool Competition first division (12.0): Lytham v Liverpool

Moore and Smalley Palace Shield premier division (1.0): Kirkham and Wesham v Great Eccleston, Penwortham v Thornton Cleveleys

Division 1B (1.0): Blackpool 2 v Grimsargh, Great Eccleston 2 v Penwortham 2, Thornton Cleveleys 2 v BAC/EE Preston, Wrea Green v Fylde

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Division 2 (1.0): St Annes 2 v Hoghton, Norcross v Walton-le-Dale

SUNDAY

LCF Knockout round two (1.0): Blackpool v Darwen, St Annes v Read, Great Eccleston v Lowerhouse

NPCL 40-over Cup round one (1.0): Fleetwood v Netherfield

PS Loxham Cup round two (1.0): Thornton Cleveleys 2 v Leyland 2

LCF Women’s League (1.0): Tarleton Tornados v Blackpool