BOLDON CA hope the impending double weekend of 3D Sports Durham Coast league fixtures will help kick-start their season and get their title defence properly underway.
Two washouts and a shock defeat are the sum total of their campaign to date and the frustration is palpable for a team seeking to make it a hat-trick of championship wins.
With so little cricket played, it is remarkable that they are already a massive 52 points behind leaders Murton, but two matches in two days could provide the perfect platform to begin the fightback.
And while they might not have seen much action on the field, they haven’t been idle off it, following up the signing of Brian Conlon last week with the acquisition of Owen Gwyn a few days ago.
Gwyn, a former Blackhall player, has joined from Hetton Lyons and both he and Conlon go into the team for Saturday’s trip to Hylton and Sunday’s home game against Easington.
Three played, three won – it seems almost unreal that one team has managed to play every game, but that is what Murton have done and they have reaped the rewards with their early dominance of the league standings.
But they face a tough double, beginning at Dawdon and concluding with a home game against Ryhope, two sides who are likely to be among their longer-term challengers.
The match against Dawdon throws up an intriguing test of sibling rivalry. The significant close-season transfer activity at Murton, which saw six new faces arrive, included the acquisition of Anthony Gale from Dawdon, and on his return there on Saturday he will be facing his old Green Drive team-mates who are skippered by his brother, Stephen.
Dawdon expect to be at full strength for this one, but Murton will be missing both Ian King and Keith Chapman with seam bowler Kevin Mawhinney one of the named replacements.
Ryhope’s double begins with a home match against Silksworth – a derby that the visitors hope will provide the perfect incentive to get their season properly started.
Opening bowler David Nield’s ankle injury means he will play in the seconds as a batter, but Steve Wright has made himself available, with hopes that his shoulder will hold up for both games. Ryhope are able to include Lee Gilbert, although Chris Lawrence misses the Murton match on Sunday.
Seaham Park are on their travels both days, with Saturday’s game at Washington followed by a trip to Peterlee.
Michael Evans returns for Park, but Alex Ludlow misses the second game and will be replaced by James Downes. Peterlee must do without Micky Buckingham, so spin bowler Ben Green is handed an opportunity.
After the visit of Boldon CA, Hylton follow up with a trip to Seaham Harbour.
Owen Williamson misses the first match, with Andrew Kibble replacing him, while Kit Allan senior returns to action on Sunday. After almost a two-year absence following an eye operation, Andy Stephenson returns to first-team action for Harbour.