WITH England gearing up to meet Sri Lanka in Sunday’s one-day international at the Emirates ICG, Durham Academy’s resources for Saturday’s Dukes North East Premier League Premier League match at Gateshead Fell have been badly depleted.
The Academy have been required to provide a significant number of their players to cover the net bowling practice requirements of the two international sides on Saturday.
So, just one week after having arguably their strongest side in the field when England’s Ben Stokes made his comeback at Benwell Hill, they have had to trawl far and wide to make up the numbers for the game at Eastwood Gardens.
All told, eight of their players are required for net duty and the ever resourceful Academy manager John Windows is bringing a number of players over from Cumbria, including Matty Semple from Egremont, Nathan Waterson from Barrow, and 15-year-old Liam Travaskis from Penrith.
The Fell will not mind that the Academy are under strength as they are desperately in need of some light at the end of a relegation tunnel that has grown darker by the week.
They are already 25 points adrift of second-bottom Blaydon, but they keep faith with the same line-up that lost heavily at Sunderland last weekend.
The knock-on effect of the requirement for international net bowlers will also be felt by other clubs as, if their Durham allocated players can bowl they’ll more than likely be required at the Emirates.
Hetton Lyons would look to have little chance of seeing Ryan Pringle for their home game against Sunderland, but the Wearsiders have problems of their own after losing their skipper Dan Shurben, the free-scoring batsman having decided to move to ambitious Washington.
Daniel Wilkinson does return for this one to bolster the Ashbrooke ranks.
Shurben, third in the list of all-time Premier Division run scorers, has only played one game this season, that being on the opening day when he led the successful Sunderland run chase against Newcastle with 84, a score that took him to within touching distance of the 8,000 career Premier League runs marker.
Ahead of him is Allan Worthy, whose maiden century for the Lyons last week lifted his aggregate to 8,863, and he now looks a racing certainty to be the first man to make it to 9,000.
Lyons will be going for the jugular after reclaiming second spot, just 13 points behind leaders South North.
Elsewhere, the Durham factor will come into play with Tynemouth likely to be missing Andrew Ireland for the trip to Ropery Lane to take on unchanged Chester-le-Street, Whitburn having to forego the services of Paul Coughlin, although they do have Michael Turns and Craig Henderson returning for the important home game against Benwell Hill, and Blaydon having to reckon without Ryan Buckley when they go to South Northumberland.
The second round of the Banks Salver takes place on bank holiday Monday.
Sunderland entertain Blaydon, Whitburn host Felling and Hetton Lyons meet South North at Lilywhite Terrace, while Chester-le-Street, a round behind, host Gateshead Fell on Sunday, with the winners due to visit South Hetton. There are two all-First Division ties scheduled for Monday, with Eppleton visiting Brandon and Washington hosting Boldon.