FOLLOWING the last-minute decision by clubs to postpone last week’s opening round of Warmseal Durham Senior League fixtures, everyone is hopeful that the continuing gloomy weather does not cast a shadow over the delayed start to the season.
With several clubs still reporting concerns over waterlogged grounds, any further rainfall could threaten several fixtures over a weekend which sees a double header of league games on Saturday and Monday.
Whatever the weather, one man who will not feature is Eppleton professional Aamir Sohail.
He looked to be the final piece in an impressive playing jigsaw that would turn his side into championship challengers, but he will not now be turning out for the club after moving to London because of work.
The news could not have come at a worse time for Eppleton, who face two challenging matches this weekend, at home to Whitburn and away to Burnmoor. Elliott Woods replaces Sohail for Saturday’s match, while Ben Young, signed from Felling on Tuesday, should be eligible to make his debut in the Bank Holiday clash.
Whitburn are chomping at the bit to get started, the additional frustration for them being that their ground was fit for play last Saturday. They show two changes this week, with Aiden Bannister and Paul Shields stepping in for the unavailable Paul Cook and Ian Elliott.
Their Monday match is at home to South Hetton, who will unveil their new overseas man this weekend after Indian Vishal Sahni arrived in the country. Primarily an opening bat, Sahni can also bowl spin, and has made five first-class appearances for Haryana in his home country.
Weather permitting, he will make his home debut against Felling on Saturday in a full-strength team that will include the ever-present Ian Houghton.
Philadelphia pencilled in a full complement of players for the opening game last week, but they have to make four changes with David Craig, Mattie Haswell, Tom Skilbeck and Andrew Robinson all missing due to a variety of social and work commitments. Father and son duo Peter and Peter Greenwell step into the breach along with James Haswell and Gary Embleton.
Phili’s double involves two away matches, beginning at Castle Eden, who still await the arrival of Ryan D’Souza, and concluding at Durham City, who hand 15-year-old Callum Steele a first-team debut with Subhan Christudas and Danni Hazell unavailable.
City are at home twice, starting with the visit of full-strength Burnmoor, while Boldon only have one game – but it’s a cracker, with champions Kimblesworth visiting on Saturday. Last year’s two top teams both have with full squads to choose from.
Horden host Norton on Saturday and Marsden on Monday.
Following confirmation earlier this week that invitations to join the new North East Premier League Second Division in 2013 had been accepted by Boldon, Eppleton, Felling, South Hetton and Whitburn, the remaining seven clubs are scheduled to meet on Sunday to try to formulate proposals to submit to the Durham Cricket Board on the way forward.