Fylde Coast cricket: Victorious St Annes makes Flintoff proud
The Broadwater club have turned to former Pakistan Test player and famed St Annes fly-half Atiq Uz-Zaman in their bid to bounce back from a bitterly disappointing 2021, which saw Fleetwood relegated from the Northern Premier League for the first team.
Under Atiq’s management, Fleetwood have won all seven Premier League games and sit 22 points clear at the top ahead of tomorrow’s home clash with second-placed Morecambe, the other club relegated from last season.
Fleetwood director of cricket Andy Singleton told The Gazette: “We had a committee meeting at the end of last season and discussed how we were going to move forward and change things, and we decided to employ a trainer, which we’ve only done once before.
“We won gold when we managed to get Atiq on board because he has a lot of experience and everyone adheres to his methods, so it’s a bet that has paid off.
“Atiq has a reputation as a field coach and a lot of work has gone into the field exercises. Our roster has been talked about a lot this season and is paying dividends.
The first XI is bouncing back strongly, but Singleton admits the club and the game as a whole have yet to fully recover from the impact of the pandemic over the past two years.
He added: “We still have issues with the transition of players from juniors to seniors and it has been a struggle across the country.
“Our junior section is dynamic until about under 14, then we find a bit of a gap.
“The transition from T20s to 40s or 50s cricket at senior level is never easy and when young players have lost a year or two of cricket it can be difficult.”
But in addition to Atiq, the club also hit the jackpot with the recruitment of Australian Zac Corcoran as a foreign amateur.
Singleton said of the league’s top wicket-taker (with 34): “Zac had never been overseas before and just wanted to come and play cricket and broaden his horizons.
“We’ve had a few pros from his club (Ringwood in Melbourne) before and they’ve told Zac that Fleetwood is a good place to come.
“It’s still early days, although we couldn’t have had a better start and it’s a big game for both clubs tomorrow.”
Morecambe have been beaten twice and captain Alex Briggs is not entirely happy with their departure, although he hopes to upset Fleetwood.
Briggs told our sister Morecambe Visitor: “If we can’t get up for this game then I don’t know when we can.
They had a great start, but I don’t think they are world champions by any stretch of the imagination.
“They haven’t really been put under pressure but I think they have a very good bowling unit.”
Northern Premier League (12.30pm): St Annes v Lancaster, Longridge v Blackpool.
Liverpool Competition First Division (12.0): Lytham v Northop Hall (Birkenhead Park 2 v Lytham 2, 12.45).
Moore and Smalley Palace Shield Premier Division (1.0): Fleetwood v Morecambe, Great Eccleston v Penwortham, Euxton v Kirkham and Wesham, Preston v Thornton Cleveleys.
Division 1A (1.0): Fylde v BAC/EE Preston
Division 1B (1.0): Blackpool 2 v Netherfield 2, Thornton Cleveleys 2 v Longridge 2, Garstang 2 v Fleetwood 2, Morecambe 2 v Great Eccleston 2
Division 2 (1.0): Wrea Green v St Annes 2, Norcross v Whittingham & Goosnargh.