Cricket: St Annes Cricket Club building strongly, Croft on Roses century

St Annes Cricket Club look to continue their unbeaten start to the Northern Premier League season when they visit Fulwood and Broughton tomorrow, though it isn't only the first team which is rebuilding positively after Covid.

By Andy Moore
Friday, 13th May 2022, 8:00 am

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Having struggled in the first division last year, the Vernon Road club stand third after wins over Penrith and Kendal, then a draw with Longridge last Saturday.

Director of cricket Russ Bradley told The Gazette: “We're only three games in but it's a decent start. The first team is the flagship but it isn't all about them – it's about building the whole club back up.

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Lancashire's Steven Croft celebrates his century on day one of the Roses match at Headingley Picture: GETTY

“We haven't lost any teams because of Covid, though the the junior players just starting out have felt it most because they missed a year. Every club is in the same boat and our young players will come through, though it does take time

“The good thing is that we have a young first team, with only a couple of players who are over 30, so there's time to get the conveyor belt going again and the junior section is very strong.”

One of those over-30s is professional Yohan De Silva, the Sri Lankan all-rounder who St Annes were able to get on board for the start of the campaign.

“It was hard work getting the professional into the country,” admitted Bradley. “His visa took a while but came through just before the season started. He's settled in well and will hope to kick on.”

There's no better proof of St Annes' ability to bring through young talent than Harry Birkman, who took six Longridge wickets last weekend.

“Harry has Lancashire and school commitments but he always contributes whenever he is available to us,” added Bradley.

St Annes had to settle for a losing draw with Longridge after both sides scored 156-9. The hosts thought they had tied only to discover that under competition rules they would have had to be all out for a tie to be awarded. That left second-placed Longridge three points above St Annes in a table topped by Chorley.

Nathan Bolus will continue to deputise as captain for the injured Nathan Armstrong tomorrow at Fulwood, who are still seeking their first win.

Steven Croft was delighted to help Lancashire into a “fantastic position” with a century on the opening day of the Roses match at Headingley.

The Red Rose stalwart from Blackpool scored 104 to go with opener Keaton Jennings' 150 not out as Lancahshire reached a dominant 288-3 in the County Championship match.

“We’re in a fantastic position,” said Croft. “It was a bit difficult at the start, but myself and Keats put on a great partnership together. It was very nice for both of us to get a hundred and put us in a strong position.

“There was a little bit in the pitch, like there usually is here on day one. I’m not sure whether we’d have bowled first as well.

“It was a tricky situation to go in at 12 for two but we both timed and paced the innings quite well.

“I think I’ve got a couple of 90s against Yorkshire but never over three figures, so very nice. I wouldn’t have minded a few more but I’d have taken that at the start of the day.

“Keaton has made it look easy. He’s shown his experience in the two games he’s played, which is exactly what you want. His tempo of his innings was brilliant - he saw the new ball off and expanded.”

TOMORROW'S FIXTURES:

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

Liverpool Competition first division (12.0): Fleetwood Hesketh v Lytham (second XI premier division, 12.45: Lytham v Ormskirk)

Moore and Smalley Palace Shield premier division (1.0): Barrow v Fleetwood, Kirkham and Wesham v Eccleston, Morecambe v Thornton Cleveleys, Preston v Great Eccleston.

Division 1A (1.0): Fylde v Hoghton

Division 1B (1.0): Blackpool 2 v Garstang 2, Fleetwood 2 v Fulwood and Broughton 2, Great Eccleston 2 v Longridge 2, Thornton Cleveleys 2 v Penwortham 2

Division 2 (1.0): Norcross v Gregson Lane, St Annes 2 v Whittingham and Goosnargh, Fulwood and Broughton 3 v Wrea Green.

SUNDAY

Palace Shield Meyler Cup (1.30): Great Eccleston v Torrisholme, Shireshead and Forton v Fleetwood, Thornton Cleveleys v Croston

Loxham Cup (1.30): Leyland 2 v Fleetwood 2, Torrisholme 2 v Norcross