Cestrians focus on T20 semi

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CHESTER-le-Street have not yet given up all hope of a dramatic last-hour Dukes North East Premier League title reprieve, but their chances can best be described as mathematical rather than realistic.

So their focus is understandably switching to next week’s big day at Edgbaston when they will be attempting to banish their 2011 T20 blues.

The Cestrians reached the National T20 Club Cup final last year only to be heavily beaten by Ealing at the County Ground in Chelmsford, but, having battled their way through again to the even bigger stage of the Birmingham Test venue, they will be determined to make the most of their second opportunity.

Chester will probably be installed as favourites on this occasion, given their record in national competition in recent seasons, although their semi-final opponents, Northern, are riding high in the Liverpool Premier League and look like finishing as runners-up.

The finals day is scheduled for next Thursday, September 6, with Chester first on at 12.30pm when they play the team from Crosby on Merseyside, with the second semi at 3.30pm when Wimbledon take on Nottinghamshire outfit Cuckney.

The final will probably start around 6.30, and will be played under floodlights, with the whole day’s proceedings live on Sky TV.

Before that, the Cestrians play their penultimate league match tomorrow when they travel to Tynemouth.

But, with 44 points to make up on leaders Blaydon, and South North also 25 points ahead in second, it looks like third place is going to be their final 2013 resting place in league terms.

Chester have a full squad available to them, but so do Tynemouth with Mathew Brown, Marcus Turner, Nick Armstrong and Richie Straughan all returning, with the hope also being that Durham contract player Mark Wood will also be available.

Like Chester, Tynemouth may have their mind on other things as they are due to host the rescheduled Banks Salver final against South North on Sunday (noon).

Sunderland’s hopes now realistically extend no further than holding on to fourth place, and with a home match to come this weekend against struggling Benwell Hill they should be able to consolidate that position.

With the second team likely to be crowned Division Two champions this weekend, the Ashbrooke club will be able to look back on a satisfactory season.

The Wearsiders’ firsts hope to be unchanged, with the only doubt being over the availability of Ruel Brathwaite.

Hetton Lyons will again turn out a young team when they entertain Durham Academy, with the winners likely to secure a top-half finish.

But Lyons have been hit by the early departure of overseas pro Kamran Shah and the recent loss of pace bowler Anthony Watson, who has returned to home club Dawdon.

Lyons will feature four under-16s, with Sean Tindale, Jack McBeth, Ben Whitehead and Jack Burnham all selected.

In the rest of tommorow’s matches, South Shields entertain bottom side Gateshead Fell, South North hope to take the title race into the final weekend with a victory at Stockton, while Blaydon could be on the verge of history when they face Newcastle at Jesmond.