7:30am Wednesday 30th May 2012
By Matt Donlan
MICHAEL Erlank says the mix of a host of South African professionals and the recent sunshine make East Lancashire just like a home from home – and he is loving every minute of his first taste of England as professional at Ribblesdale Wanderers.
The 21-year-old, from Kimberley in Cape Province in South Africa – which is the centre of diamond country – is winning friends at Church Meadow with a string of impressive performances, including a fine 61 at Baxenden on Saturday and a quite stunning 150 in Sunday’s win over Great Harwood, and is now hoping the weather holds and his scoring run continues.
“Yeah, it’s been a good couple of weeks,” said Erlank when asked how he was finding the sunshine in Clitheroe.
“It wasn’t too good when I got here but this is more like it and it makes playing cricket all the more pleasurable. This is much more like it.”
Erlank is in form with the bat and has scored 302 runs in six knocks since arriving in the Ribble Valley after missing the first four games of the Ribblesdale League season.
And now he is aiming to propel Ian Britcliffe’s men up the table towards the top five and also through the challenge of a Ramsbottom Cup clash at Barnoldswick on June 17 as the Ribble Valley side eye a defence of the trophy they won last year.
“The main thing is for the team to win matches,” he said. “If I get runs that helps but it is about the team and we want to get a run together and move on up that table.”
The left-hand bat and right-arm spinner, who is now a fixture in the Free State side, had never been to the UK before landing his deal with Wanderers but says any problems about settling into life as club professional have been eased by the number of his fellow countrymen around the area this year.
Francois Haasbroek, Werner Coetsee, Shadley Van Schalkwyk, Jandre Coetzee, Ockert Erasmus and Pieter Malan are all in the Lancashire League, while Dale Deeb playes for Blackpool in the Northern League.
And Erlank, who turns 22 on July 4, admits it makes life so much easier to hear so many fellow Afrikaan accents.
“I am very good friends with Shadley and Francois and I know Ockert well as well,” he said. “So there are plenty of people around who I know – and with the weather it is just like a home from home here in Lancashire.
“I am really enjoying myself. It is good here and hopefully we can get a few more wins together – with the weather staying good as well.”
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