SATURDAY’S undoubted 3D Sports Durham Coast League match of the day is at Seaham Park, where the second-placed hosts face leaders Murton in a classic top of the table encounter.
After a slightly subdued start, Park are gathering a head of steam after winning the last three games they have played, and they are now just 12 points adrift of Murton.
Seaham skipper Mike McNicholas likens the clash to Park versus Park given the number of former players who will be on display, and the game gives him the chance to captain a side for the first time against someone who he regards as one of his closest friends and cricketing mentor, Dave Hanson, who leads the Murton team.
Park go into the match with an unchanged line-up, and the gauntlet is well and truly thrown down as Murton are also at full strength, with Keith Chapman and Ian King back in harness.
Double champions Boldon CA go to Bill Quay in desperate need of a confidence-boosting performance to lift spirits.
After being the dominant force for the last two years, the title holders find themselves without a win to date, and in the unusual position of third from bottom.
They are already a massive 70 points behind leaders Murton, and it looks increasingly unlikely that they will be able to defend their hard-won honour.
But the trip to Bill Quay may be the opportunity to take the first positive steps of the campaign as their hosts have their own problems and are three points behind CA.
Boldon skipper Lee Jackson puts his side’s early-season problems down to a number of issues, but primarily the lack of both match and non-match practice, with ground problems frustrating efforts to get on the field, something that has manifested itself in some “lack-lustre” batting displays which reached a head last Sunday when Easington demolished them for 49.
Quay’s issues have revolved more around player availability highlighted by last weekend’s double header where they played with significantly different teams on the two days.
Both sides show changes for this crucial encounter, with Quay bringing in Craig Falcus for Nathan Drewery, and Boldon having to contend without David Tate and Brian Conlon. Sean Beeson is drafted in and Gary Frater returns.
The highs and lows of cricket, and the value of the toss, were well and truly demonstrated by Silksworth last week.
In their first game against Ryhope, they initially had their opponents at 1-3 on a green wicket and went on to record a good win, but the following day they came back to earth with a bump after being inserted by Washington.
This Saturday sees them at Hylton, where the home side will be missing Gavin Barnes but have Liam Foster and Owen Williamson back in the fold.
Silksworth keep the same team as Sunday, with Malcolm Nichol at the races. Steve Wright got through both games and will continue to open the attack, although he sees himself as a batsman by constantly reminding everyone he’s the leading run-scorer!
Elsewhere, on-song Dawdon go to Ryhope, Easington entertain Seaham Harbour and Washington take on Peterlee.