Readers Durham Cricket League by Chris West
THE First Division championship race is suddenly a whole lot tighter after an adjustment was made to the points totals of the two leading sides.
Now just four points separate leaders Burnmoor from challengers Tudhoe.
The complex points system has been a source of confusion among clubs since the league was formed, but, on this occasion, the mix-up related to the game between the two sides a month ago when the draw points were incorrectly apportioned between the teams by the league.
But the change has added spice to Burnmoor’s home game against Castle Eden this weekend, as well as Tudhoe’s match against Marsden.
The Moor expect to be at full strength as they have David Lowther back from injury and Owen Lancaster returning.
In addition, the injury concerns over Paul Craig have receded and he takes his place in the home dressing room.
Castle Eden do not expect any changes in their line-up, although they are expecting news any day of a substitute professional to replace the injured Prateek Dabholkar, who returned home a couple of weeks ago after suffering a torn shoulder cartilage.
While they do not wish to reveal a name until the deal is done, the replacement is said to be a Pakistani leg spinner/batsman and clearly he would go straight into the team once his registration was approved.
Marsden are the team hoping to upset the Tudhoe applecart, and they certainly need the points after slipping into the bottom two a couple of weeks ago.
They are awaiting confirmation that Mark Woodhead has overcome a back problem. If that’s the case, it will enable them to name the same team as last week.
Boldon CA have lost just one game this season and that makes them the club with the fewest ticks in the defeats column, yet they are in the bottom half of the table, some 90 points behind the table-toppers.
While a title tilt now looks beyond them, and relegation should not be an issue, they are still keen to build on their record and will be confident of doing so when they travel to rock bottom Evenwood on Saturday.
But they will be missing professional Shashank Singh, who has been selected for the Mumbai University team who will be representing India in an eight-team international tournament at Lord’s over the next fortnight or so.
However, there could be another surprise in that Lee Jackson might be back from Libya, even though he promised the club he would not be back this summer. In addition, Rajan Kumerasamy may also be available for his seasonal debut.
Philadelphia are able to include Lee Innes, and that puts them at their strongest for the Bunker Hill game against Mainsforth.
Hylton have to reckon without the services of Gav Barnes following the rupturing of a tendon in his elbow, although they do have Graham Shovelin set to make his seasonal debut in the game at Horden, who have Lee Gilbert back to put them at full strength.
There have been one or two re-adjustments in the Second Division table as well, with the main beneficiary being Durham City, who now stand on 230 points – eight behind leaders Bill Quay and 20 ahead of third-placed Whiteleas.
This sets Saturday’s big game up perfectly. Leas entertain Durham, and while there is a 20-point difference, the fact they have a game in hand makes this match into a “football-style six-pointer” for both teams.
Whiteleas are delighted to be in with a shout at this stage of the summer and, as leading batsman Owen Peterson pointed out, they still have all to play for.
“We are well placed in third with a crucial game in hand over the two sides above us and play the side in second spot, Durham City, on Saturday, which may prove to be a key game,” he said.
“If we can get a decent result there and then win our game in hand, we could be in for an exciting climax.”
Leas make one change, with Scott Oliver returning to replace Nathan Ullah.
Leaders Bill Quay should prove too strong for hosts Shildon as there are 122 points separating the sides in the league table. Quay are back up to optimum strength with the return of Micky Orridge to the side.
Ryhope entertain Langley Park and bring in Chris Lawrence and Connor Pearson for the unavailable Davey Gilbert and Chris Errington, while Joey Jones replaces James Ferguson in the Seaham Park side which makes the trek west to Ushaw Moor.