Durham Cricket League: Dawdon face weakened Castle Eden in crucial weekend showdown

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Dawdon’s hopes of regaining the leadership of the First Division rest on their game at Castle Eden this weekend.

With their hosts likely to be severely depleted for the second time in a month because of a wedding, their timing could not be much better.

Just two points currently separate the teams in second and third place in the table, although that might surprise one or two given that it was thought for a while that they were actually first and second.

Two and a half seasons down the line and the mysteries of the points system continue to perplex a number of Durham League teams, and that was once again the case last week when it appeared that Castle Eden had regained the leadership.

But it subsequently emerged that an incorrect return had been made in the game involving Esh Winning, with the re-adjustment handing Esh an additional four points that took them two clear of the Castle, and four ahead of Dawdon.

Anyway, when the mists cleared it made little difference to the fact that Saturday’s clash at the Castle is the undoubted match of the day, with both sides being affected, albeit to significantly differing degrees, by the nuptials of Dean Langridge.

Just a few short weeks ago, Castle Eden went into the weekend of Liam Brown’s wedding with ten players missing from the first and second teams, and this time the head count comes to seven first-teamers, captain Keith Bailey, wicket-keeper Jonathan Brown and top order bat Richard McGlasham among them.

Liam, not long returned from his honeymoon, is on best man duty, no doubt much better placed now to offer the bridegroom words of advice!

With Ryan Ball and Liam Irwin on holiday the return of Alan Unsworth is at least one positive, and he will have youngster Thomas Gorham and Matthew Nixon coming in along with Brennan Ball who replaces brother Ryan as the third spin option. John Spellman senior is also drafted in to provide some much-needed experience.

Dawdon don’t escape completely unscathed as Richard Ede, who joined them in the close season from Castle Eden, is also on the guest list, but he is the only absentee with his place in the dressing room going to Mark Ewart, who returns from holiday.

Meanwhile, new leaders Esh Winning have problems of their own, with their opening attack of Paul Chivers and Jonathan Hodgson both missing the home game against Durham City – they will bring in two second-teamers who are as yet unnamed.

City have named the same team as last week, which it will be recalled was also significantly depleted, although if Scott Steel is released by the Durham Academy he will play.

It has been confirmed that overseas player Kevin Sukumar is out for the season with a knee injury.

Hylton have skipper Alan Mustard back at the helm for their home game against Philadelphia, and he will have Gary Frater and Adam Bewick at his disposal, with the pair now fit again after recent injuries.

In other top-flight games Horden name an unchanged line-up for the home game against Boldon CA, and Vinit Dhulap will continue to play for Easington when they host Bill Quay, this despite the discomfort of a cracked bone in his thumb, however it looks like former Horden captain Adrian Hedley could miss the rest of the season because of his persistent back problem.