Durham Academy went into the season with the youngest squad manager John Windows could recall, and he expected it would be a testing experience for his charges in the school of hard knocks, but three consecutive defeats have left them just a handful of points above the wooden spoon slot.
Last season, they finished fourth, and only lost three times in total, but Windows is not overly concerned.
“There have been some promising performances so far, it’s just a lack of experience that has cost us,” he said.
“We’ve been in good positions in each of them but have allowed ourselves to be ‘outmuscled’ at various stages.”
The Academy’s next test is on Saturday at Newcastle, who are third.
Blaydon youngster Ross Greenwell is penciled in for his debut, while George Harding is returning to full fitness – he scored runs and took wickets in his first game last week.
Steve Allen will make his first team debut for the Tynesiders. He takes the place of Ben McGee who is taking a little time out for important exams.
Hetton Lyons face the acid test this weekend – a match against reigning champions and current leaders South North – although they do have home advantage. With Durham starting a County Championship match on Sunday it looks almost certain Lyons will be without Brydon Carse, who enjoyed an impressive debut in last week’s game at Whitburn.
Skipper Jarvis Clay indicates that it is likely that close-season signing Reece Wood will figure in the 12.
The young quickie, who has played for home club Blackhall, Middlesbrough and the Academy over the last few years, played in the opening games of the season.
Craig Scurr had a run out for Eppleton’s third team last Sunday, a first match of the summer for him and one in which he enjoyed some wicket taking success. He is therefore set to make his seasonal first team debut in place of Elliott Woods, and that puts Eppleton at full strength for the trip to a South Shields side who are flying high at the moment.
The Shieldsmen are currently second, just eight points behind the Bulls, and expect to turn out the same eleven who won at Stockton last Saturday.
Whitburn go in search of their second league win of the summer when they travel to Denton Bank this weekend to take on Benwell Hill, but they will not have Jack Burnham available to them because of county duty, and Lee Henderson is also missing.
Former skipper Andy Turns is set to make his first start of the summer for the first team while Ian Elliot also earns a swift recall.
In Saturday’s remaining games, Chester-le-Street host Tynemouth and Gateshead Fell entertain Stockton, while on Sunday a number of Banks Salver matches are scheduled to be played following their weather abandonment over the last Bank Holiday weekend.
Amongst the ties, Whitburn are set to play at Seaham Harbour.