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Team Talk STORY
Agathagelou's memorable year

Andrea Agathangelou is hoping to put the seal on a memorable year by helping Lancashire's Second Team hoist the Second XI Trophy.

The 20 year-old skippered the side in Monday's six-wicket defeat of Middlesex and is now looking forward to the final against Essex at Chelmsford on September 13th.

Lifting silverware would be a wonderful way for Agathagelou to end a scholarship season which he describes as one of the greatest experiences of his young life.

The 20-year-old all-rounder recently passed a thousand runs in all matches for the county's second team and has also played as a professional for Lancashire League club Rishton.

Perhaps the individual highlight of his stay was the Lancashire II's game against Somerset at Southport when he took ten for 124 with his leg-spin and also scored 129 and 70 not out in his side's nine-wicket win.

If there had been a man of the match award for that contest, Agathangelou would have won it by a mile. For the player himself, though, it was just one more memorable game in an unforgettable summer.

"It's all been a great thrill and a great experience and those feelings have just grown over time," said the Rustenberg-born cricketer. "It's always been an ambition of mine to come over to England. Everyone I've played with back home has been over here and I've heard nothing but good things about it, so I wanted to experience for myself.

"I wanted to come over last year but I was a part of the National Academy in Pretoria in South Africa for four months and that was taking place in our off-season, which is the summer over here, so I couldn't come over then.

"I also think I've been really lucky to come to a set-up like Lancashire's where everyone is so close. There's a sense of brotherhood in the squad and it's been really nice to fall into a set-up where everyone's made me feel at home. The cricket's of a good standard, the coaches are just unbelievable and the training regimes are excellent.

"I'm the type of player that needs to hit a lot of balls and needs to train a lot and I'm at a place where everything's available to me when I need it. It just a fully professional set up.

"The Lancashire League is a good standard and it's really nice to play in an environment where everyone loves the game so much and has such a big passion for it. You'll arrive at the ground and it might be flooded with water but it's incredible the amount of effort that goes in to make sure that the game happens. It's wonderful to be involved in a set up like that too."

However, while playing for Lancashire and Rishton has been enjoyable, it has also been very demanding, and Agathangelou admits that he has needed to modify his technique.

"I was struggling a little bit early on because I was used to the wickets back home where the ball comes onto the bat and you get more value for your shots," he explained. "Because the ball nips around a lot over here and there's always something in it for the bowlers, I made a mental adjustment to play everything on merit. You have to keep working and keep your focus throughout your innings because you're never in on these wickets.

"I also find I do play the ball later over here. I find I'm getting a bigger stride in rather than throwing my hands at the ball. I'm driving balls that are a bit fuller than those I'd normally drive and I'm leaving balls alone which I'd drive back home.

"As a result my run-scoring areas have been narrowed down a bit. I've given up driving on the up, but with the extra slip in place, there's normally a gap where I can drop and run. I'm probably getting off strike more than I do back home and that's an adjustment I've made."

Agathangeou has found his summer to be pleasingly packed with cricket. He's played for Lancashire Seconds during the week and Rishton at weekends. On days off he has normally been found either in the gym or hitting "a couple of extra balls" with like-minded colleagues.

As for that game at Southport, he agrees that it is up there with his best, but he is now focusing on making the last fortnight of his summer as memorable as the first four months.

"Andrea's performances in the Lancashire League have steadily improved," said Lancashire's Director of Cricket Mike Watkinson. "His main strength is his batting, but his leg spin's not the worse either. As a 20-year-old he has a lot of promise."
Paul Edwards
Photo: Ken Grime
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