Warmseal Durham Senior League preview

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WHITBURN is the place to be on Sunday as the club host the Durham Senior League T20 finals day.

The fun begins early when South Hetton take on Philadelphia in the first semi-final at 10am, followed at 1.30pm when Eppleton tackle the host club in the other semi.

If all goes to plan, the final between the two victorious sides will start at 5pm.

Whitburn have pushed the boat out to host an exciting day of cricket played in the tradition of the professional T20 game, with coloured clothing, pink balls and music helping create a lively atmosphere for spectators to enjoy.

There will be ample refreshments available throughout the day, with a barbecue, tuck shop and other stalls.

Before all the razzmatazz of the T20, clubs will hopefully be able to knuckle down to some league cricket on Saturday.

With last week’s washout leaving just five games more to play, time is running out for any would-be challengers to make inroads into newcomers Kimblesworth’s 30-point lead at the top of the table – indeed the table-toppers were not entirely tongue-in- cheek when suggesting they don’t mind if it rains some more!

They put out a full-strength side when they entertain Boldon, who will be selecting from a squad of 12 with the return of Michael Bittlestone, although their new signing from Hetton Lyons, Michael Walker, will definitely make his debut – weather permitting.

Second-placed Eppleton go to unchanged Castle Eden and bring in all-rounder Gary Headon as a replacement for David Wilkinson, who will miss the next three weekends.

Dean Musther returns to the Church Road side in place of Elliott Woods, who is playing football for Crook Town.

Paul Smith, who has played in earlier rounds of the T20, will come into Sunday’s finals team, as will Woods.

Afzaal Chougle is out of the Horden side which travels to Whitburn. He suffered a thumb fracture earlier in the season which is proving troublesome and will be replaced by Lewis Fortune.

Their hosts have delayed selection and will pick from a squad of 12 on Saturday, with Craig Smith joining last week’s line-up. T20 specialist Ian Elliott is added to that dozen for Sunday’s finals.

And there is more good news from the Whitburn camp in that pro Stuart Walker has agreed terms for another year at the club and will be playing for them again in 2012.

Tom Cosford will play on both days for South Hetton.

They face Philadelphia twice in two days as their T20 showdown is preceded by a league clash at Bunker Hill, where the home side are unchanged.

On Sunday, they bring in Jonny Haswell for Stephen Robinson, while Chris Noble also plays as Adam McGuire is cup tied.

With skipper Gary Brown out of the Burnmoor team to play at Norton, veteran bowler Ian Conn’s return is timely against the Teessiders who will probably have to reckon without Kenny Gresham for the rest of the season, the captain sidelined by a shoulder problem that shows no signs of clearing up.

Durham City have a chance to get off the bottom of the table when they entertain fellow strugglers Felling.

But the threat of relegation has been lifted by the recent decision of Senior League clubs that there would be no demotion this season – a decision that could well have wider repercussions for the Durham pyramid system in the coming weeks.