JUST two rounds into the Warmseal Durham Senior League new season, only three teams retain a 100 per cent record, and two of them clash head on this weekend.
Horden and Castle Eden have both won twice, while Boldon have played just the one game, but that was a crucial one – a home victory over champions Kimblesworth.
And Boldon have home advantage once more as they entertain a Horden team who have flown out of the traps with a revamped squad.
New skipper Adrian Hedley has had fresh blood at his disposal, with the much-travelled Masood Mirza, Max Bailey and Palav Kumar all contributing to the team’s early successes which have seem them rout the opposition in both games. Norton were skittled for just 50, and Marsden fared even worse, mustering just 37 on Monday.
Mirza underlined his threat by taking seven wickets for a meagre 14 runs in those games, although even he has been outdone by Gary Ward, who has been outstanding with the ball having bagged eight wickets.
Horden travel with a full side for what should prove the ultimate test of their new-found confidence.
Boldon have just the one absentee as Nick Sampson-Barnes recovers from an eye operation.
Castle Eden’s display in winning at Kimblesworth on Monday ranks as one of their very best since earning promotion to the Senior League, and that makes it a bit frustrating for them that they are the team with the spare day this weekend and have to sit this one out.
But at least it ensures their perfect record remains intact and it also gives them some breathing space to finally get their overseas player into the country – Indian all-rounder Ryan D’Souza could possibly be here in the next week or so to give their squad a further boost.
It’s possibly a case of now you don’t see him, now you do at Eppleton.
Just one week ago, the Church Road club were fretting over the news that Pakistani Aamir Sohail would not be joining them.
But it is possible that he will be doing so now, and in time for Saturday’s home game against Philadelphia.
Phili were lifted by Monday’s excellent batting performance at Durham City, when they spectacularly took up the challenge laid down by their hosts. With Tom Skilbeck expected to make his debut at Eppleton, the absence of Mattie Haswell is compensated for.
Just eight points from two games means Durham City are already in all-too-familiar territory near the foot of the table, but they showed clear winning intent in their declaration on Monday, with skipper Mark Woodhead pointing out that they could easily have batted Phili out of the game by using up another 10 overs but preferred the positive option.
City have home advantage this week against the wounded lions of Kimblesworth, and have Steve Howson, Jonny Middleton, Phil Parker and Subhan Christudas back in their line-up against the same again champions.
In the day’s other games, unchanged Burnmoor travel to South Hetton, who promote Tony Murphy for the unavailable Ian Houghton, Whitburn have Paul Cook back for their home game against Felling, and Marsden stay loyal to the same 11 for their match against Norton, who have re-signed Chris Fawcett from Hartlepool.