By Chris West
BOLDON CA will come out all guns blazing when the new season starts on Saturday as they seek to overcome the disappointment of last autumn that served to take a little of the gloss off an outstanding season.
Having deservedly secured the 2010 championship, the club were keen to progress up the pyramid until an 11th hour application from Durham County League outfit Kimblesworth threw their Senior League plans into a play-off melting pot.
The rest became history as the promotion party turned into a coming home do, but, with opening bowler Carl Watson (pictured left) signed from Eppleton, and David Batty likely to play regularly, the champs are chomping at the bit again.
They begin their title defence at Ryhope, who will be skippered by former Seaham Park all-rounder Mickey Thorpe. Lee Gilbert has also joined from Horden to make up for the departure of the Purewal twins, Amar and Arjun, to Dawdon.
Easington captain Dane Wilson will miss the first two months of the season as he recovers from a knee injury, but the club have made two key signings – in returning all-rounder John Sample and young Ben Wicling, a classy bat with Premier League and NYSD experience.
Washington are Easington’s opening-day visitors and they will parade new pro Darren Hickey, who has signed a three-year deal. The much-travelled Hickey is capable of some explosive batting displays, and with ice hockey star Mark Lee fully fit again, and David Renwick signed from Dawdon, the club are likely to be much improved on last year.
The loss of Sample is the only change at Murton, so it is unlikely they will see a return to former glories just yet, although they are favourites to at least start off with a win as they entertain Peterlee, last year’s wooden spoonists, who have no new faces on show.
The three Seaham sides all have eyes on the top half of the table. Seaham Harbour have Ryan Consitt in the captaincy hot seat, the only other change to their squad being the acquisition of Michael Agar from Silksworth.
Seaham Park were more than happy to encourage leg spinner Chris Varley to broaden his cricketing education by joining Premier League team Blaydon, and with John Atkinson having emigrated, and Mickey Thorpe joining Ryhope, they have a fairly big gap to fill.
But Alex Ludlow’s arrival from Burnmoor, alongside Andrew Docherty from Ryhope, makes Mike McNicholas quietly confident they can give CA another run for their money in the title race.
Meanwhile, Dawdon have a feeling that they can ruffle a few feathers – they haven’t lost any players, and with the Purewal twins expected to be available for much of the campaign, and the much travelled Shoaib Akhtar back in the fold, there should be some enthralling cricket to come at Green Drive.
One club with a settled squad is Hylton, who finished in mid-table in their first year back in the league. Their only concern is over the fitness of Kit Allen senior, but they hope dynamic batting duo Chris Allen and Lee Rushworth, alongside promising young quickie Adam Bewick, will make them upwardly mobile.
After a year out, Darren Stoker is back in action for Silksworth, who begin with a trip to Seaham Harbour, while Bill Quay will be the first to test Dawdon’s new-look line-up. Second in each of the last two years, Quay are desperate to go one better, and with pro Joe Dodd fit again, and Micky Orridge joining from Gateshead Fell, they are likely to be in the thick of the title race again.