THE second double header of the summer is scheduled for this weekend, and, with last week’s results tightening things up at the top of the 3D Durham Coast League, there could well have been some musical chairs action in the leading group come Sunday night.
The two games will take clubs to the exact halfway point in terms of games “played”, which also aligns with the halfway point of this saturated summer – and it is a sobering thought among cricket lovers that from tomorrow the nights will be starting to draw in.
Leaders Murton begin their double with a trip to Hylton, following up with Sunday’s home game against Boldon CA, and they expect to have a full complement of players at their disposal with the return of the Vout brothers, Jordan and Aidan.
Hylton have to reckon without Stephen Lee-Merrington on Saturday and Liam Foster on Sunday, so John Stokoe and Andrew Kibble come in.
Boldon CA are able to include the returning David Batty, Owen Gwyn and Brian Conlon for both games, their weekend starting with a trip to Seaham Harbour.
Dawdon’s derby victory over Seaham Harbour last week was a key result in the title race as it lifted the Green Drive outfit into second place, just 12 points behind Murton.
And it perhaps signalled a change of fortune. Skipper Stephen Gale reflected: “We are fortunate to play on a good drying ground and were pleased to get our game on last week when other teams missed out on playing.
“Murton have been fortunate up to now with the weather, so perhaps it was our turn for a bit of luck.”
But their ground will not come into the equation this weekend as they face two difficult away games – at on-form Easington on Saturday and Hylton on Sunday.
Craig Stephenson is missing for Dawdon’s first match, with Tabs Shah stepping in, but returns the following day as the title challengers put out their Sunday best.
Seaham Park had to sit and watch as their fierce rivals leapfrogged them in the table last week, and they also face two away days, starting at Bill Quay and finishing at Ryhope.
Park have some selection dilemmas with Alex Ludlow and Kamran Mansoor possibly missing both matches through work commitments, and Uzair Afaq definitely out.
There are also concerns over Farukh Iqbal (knees) and a decision on his inclusion will hinge on a late fitness test. With several uncertainties, team announcements have been deferred.
Silksworth have to reckon without several players on both days, and Under-18 bowlers Kieran Laws and Stuart Middlemiss have put themselves in contention for promotion after some impressive displays at second team level.
They begin at Peterlee on Saturday, then host Seaham Harbour the following day.
With Connor Dickinson, Billy Willetts and Dave Garraghan back this week, Peterlee have the core of their first team in place on both days, while Seaham Harbour show just one change, with Adam Fairley returning.
Washington have a home double, meeting Ryhope and Easington.