Fylde coast cricket review: Blackpool take top spot and Fleetwood climb off bott…
The South African all-rounder tasted victory as a Broadwater player for the first time in Saturday’s derby win over St Annes and played a starring role, taking 6-35 from 11.1 overs and contributing an unbeaten 35 with the bat.
The Cape Town 24-year-old’s career was progressing well in his homeland, where he had played First-Class and List A cricket with North West and Dolphins since 2016 and T20 for Easterns.
However, torn knee cartilage has left him without a contract for 2021/22 and determined to prove he is back to his best in his first season outside South Africa.
Matthews told The Gazette: “My future back home is a bit up in the air. I tore my meniscus and I needed to get back on the field.
“I want to build my confidence by playing well and hopefully my game will be transformed while I’m here. If I can put in some good performances I can hopefully sort out my future back home.
“I was looking to come over last summer but obviously Covid prevented that. My agent got in contact with a guy from Fleetwood It took a while to make all the arrangements but I’m so pleased I came here.”
Matthews has no regrets and, having tasted victory at the seventh attempt with Fleetwood, he’s hoping there are more wins to come this weekend, when the team play three times.
Tomorrow’s league match takes Fleetwood to Chorley, who replaced them at the bottom of division one last weekend, then Sunday sees the start of the Readers T20 with a Broadwater double-header against Blackpool and Morecambe.
Settling in hasn’t been a problem for Matthews, despite the extraordinary build-up to the season.
The right-arm leg-break bowler added: “It’s absolutely lovely here. Fleetwood is great and I’m enjoying living in Thornton. The people are really welcoming and my clubmates are great people.
“We got off to a shaky start. We have been missing a few players but that was a really good win over St Annes and we played decent cricket. We’ve needed some all-round performances and we got one last weekend, so hopefully we can carry that on.
“I made a slow start myself but the dynamic has been a bit different this year, with quarantine and then going straight into the games.
“It’s also my first time in the UK and a new experience, but after quarantine, it seems like plain sailing and life over here is kind of what I expected.
“I want to get my first half-century. I’ve had a couple of 40s and matches in which I’ve taken two or three wickets but nothing spectacular, so last weekend was my best yet and a performance to build on.”
Matthews is impressed by both the standard of the competition and of his new teammates, adding: “A lot of guys told me that the Northern League was perhaps one of the strongest around and I’m looking forward to the challenge.
“From what I’ve seen so far, the standard is high and some of the players are definitely good enough to take it further. Even as a pro you have to prove yourself.
“At Fleetwood, Declan Clerkin is definitely one I think has the talent, but it’s about finding the time as well as putting in the effort, and Harry McAleer has really impressed me, though he is still in his teens and can develop a lot.”
There is a new format for the Readers T20 this season, with the NPL clubs split into two groups of six (Fleetwood join Blackpool in group two, while St Annes are in group one). Group matches are to be played over four Sundays (the second one is July 11), with home teams playing two visiting sides on the same day.
Matthews said: “I’m really looking forward to the T20. It’s entertaining to watch and I think you have more of a level playing field in that format – anyone can beat anyone on the day.”
Northern Premier League: Chorley v Fleetwood, Netherfield v Brighton, St Annes v Leyland, Fulwood and Broughton v Lancaster, Garstang v Morecambe, Longridge v Kendal.
Liverpool Competition first division: Colwyn Bay v Lytham (12.0)
Moore and Smalley Palace Shield premier division: Kirkham and Wesham v Penwortham, South Shore v Great Eccleston, Thornton Cleveleys v Fylde, Penrith v Croston, Preston v Barrow, Vernon Carus v Eccleston
Division 1B: Blackpool 2 v Netherfield 2, Fleetwood 2 v Chorley 2, Great Eccleston 2 v Fulwood and Broughton 2, Leyland 2 v St Annes 2, Kendal 2 v Longridge 2, Morecambe 2 v Garstang 2
Division 2: Longridge 3 v Thornton Cleveleys 2, Norcross v Ingol, Wrea Green v Whittingham and Goosnargh
NPL Readers T20 Group 1: St Annes v Leyland (11.30), St Annes v Lancaster (3.0), Chorley v Netherfield and Garstang.
Group 2: Fleetwood v Blackpool (11.30), Fleetwood v Morecambe (3pm), Longridge v Fulwood & Broughton and Kendal.
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