Durham Cricket League: Breese, Thorpe fire up Burnopfield as Littletown and Ryhope are boosted by new professionals

Gareth Breese celebrates Durham's Royal London One Day Cup final success on his final appearance for the county last season

Gareth Breese celebrates Durham's Royal London One Day Cup final success on his final appearance for the county last season

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IN Division Two all eyes will be on Burnopfield, newly-arrived and likely to dominate from the off with former Durham stars Gareth Breese and Callum Thorp in their ranks.

They have two or three other new faces which should mean their Northumberland and Tyneside Senior League relegation form of last year will be consigned to the history books.

The other new teams featuring are Houghton and Littletown, the two sides having moved up from the North East Durham League.

Houghton are going mainly with the same squad which came within a whisker of taking the North East Durham League title last year, while Littletown, who finished third behind Houghton, have pushed the boat out in an attempt to be competitive in their new surroundings.

Rizwan Ullah has been engaged as the club’s first pro – he did well for Eppleton in the Premier League last season – and also coming in are Bryan Conlon, Carl Purvis (both BCA), Brad Davis (East Rainton) and Scott Hopson (Brandon).

Among the established sides, Murton have revamped their whole squad, with Chris Winn (Brandon), Alistair Watson (Seaham Park), Michael Coulthard (Tudhoe), Niall Herron (South Hetton) and Ben Wicling (Darlington) giving the team a completely new look after last season’s bottom-two finish.

Peterlee were only just above Murton and they have a 22-year-old Aussie in town.

Melbourne-based batsman Aaron Shellie is joined by Paul Griffith and, with no departures, further progress is hoped for.

There’s also an overseas interest at Ryhope – for the first time in 30 years!

South African opening bowler Dylan Buckthorpe can also bat a bit, and, with Paul Jenkin back at the club after a season at Sunderland, Connor Pearson playing again after a season out with a serious injury, and great things expected of youngsters Jack Tomlin and Josh Dick, then Ryhope could be one of those vying for promotion.

Dave Hanson leads a Seaham Park squad that has been boosted by the arrival of Kit Allan from Hylton, and Ian Cassap and Craig Brammer from neighbours Murton.

Indian all-rounder Siddharth Chitnis will be the overseas pro – he has first-class experience and has played 15 Indian Premier League games for three different sides, including Mumbai Indians.

Ex-Burnmoor batsman Andrew Barrass has joined Silksworth, while Andrew Waterson is likely to resume playing after a few seasons on the sidelines.

Nineteen--year-old Aussie Isaac Conway features for Marsden, who have also recruited Paul Hobson (Littletown) and Mark Wood (Blackhall), and Ushaw Moor have Scott Nattrass and Ross Whelpdale back in the fold.

After scoring 780 league runs last summer, young Sunzow Brahma is back for another season at Whiteleas, where he will be joined by the Gilbert brothers, Lee from Horden and Dave from Ryhope. Leas missed out on promotion by seven points last year and are looking to go one better this time around.