Durham Cricket League: Philadelphia may have to wait for Shahzad debut

Philadelphia newcomer Rameez Shahzad bowls for South Shields in a previous stint in the North East.
Philadelphia newcomer Rameez Shahzad bowls for South Shields in a previous stint in the North East.

Philadelphia’s new overseas player, Rameez Shahzad, looks likely to miss Saturday’s home Division One opener against Easington.

Chairman Malcolm Pratt said: “Shahzad is a right-hand batsman and off-break bowler who has just completed a hugely successful season with the United Arab Emirates, however, he might not be here on time for the match.

“He has previously played in this country for Sunderland and South Shields, where he was a prolific run-scorer and effective bowler. He comes recommended by director of coaching, Geoff Cook.”

Fast bowler Reece Wood, whose former clubs include Hetton Lyons and Middlesbrough, has also joined, while pacemen Will Orchin and Chris Paton have returned to the club from Wearmouth.

Pratt added: “Will, a former junior with the club, has impressed in both the indoor nets and in last week’s friendly.

“For the first time, Phili will have two ladies available for selection. Rachel Hopkins, who has moved into the area from Derbyshire, has looked an accomplished player in the indoor nets, while Rachel Petherick has impressed with her spin bowling.”

Seaham Park have four in and three out ahead of their trip to Marsden.

Park were runners-up to Castle Eden last season, and hope for another excellent season.

Skipper Michael McNicholas said: “We have lost a few players, with Michael Walker gone travelling, Dale Shaw moving up to the Premier League with Felling, and going with our best wishes and Angus McKenzie, who was last year’s overseas Aussie amateur, not returning.

“We have brought in all-rounders Umar and Sheb Akhtar from Horden, who are both Seaham lads, batsman Adrian Hedley from Seaham Harbour and opening bowler Davey Gilbert from Ryhope.”

McNicholas added: “The club has recently gained its tier five sponsor licence and in process of recruiting an overseas professional, who will hopefully be in place in the next couple of weeks.

“Barring the professional, we have a full squad to choose from and expect a tough game against newly-promoted Marsden.

Marsden have retained the squad which finished second in Division Two last term.

Secretary James Sneller said: “We are really looking forward to the start of the season. We have signed David Lowther, an experienced batsman from Philadelphia, and everyone in the club is feeling positive about the season ahead.”

It’s almost all change at Horden, who entertain Mainsforth on opening day.

Official Wayne Birks said: “We have virtually changed the whole squad, with 12 players leaving and 16 players coming in!

“We are going to utilise the younger players this season and the aim this year will be to just not get relegated.”

Durham City, who have lost Jake McCann since finishing third last year, begin at home to Esh Winning .

Esh chairman David Watson said: “We have a full squad to choose from and will be looking to develop our younger players. We have decided not to have an overseas professional this year.”

Bill Quay begin with a visit to Tudhoe.

Quay captain Jeff Tudor, said: “We have a new professional, Jarod van Blerk from Zimbabwe, and we welcome back Berwick Hall, who has played for the club previously.

“Unfortunately, we lost our professional from last year, Josh Eaton, due to visa issues.”

Whiteleas travel to Crook, the newly-promoted Division Two champions.

Leas will be led by Andrew Potts, following Owen Peterson’s decision to step down after 11 seasons at the helm.

It’s a remarkable story for Potts, who, only last June, underwent major brain surgery to successfully remove a tumour.

Potts said: “I managed to start the season last year, but, with the news I received in May, I obviously couldn’t play any more games.

“When you have a life experience as I did, it makes you think in different ways and my outlook is more positive for it.

“I certainly didn’t think I’d be playing cricket 10 months after my procedure, that’s for sure.

“I want the players to be positive and enjoy the game as much as they can.”

Leas also have a new overseas professional, in Pakistan fast bowler Biliwal Iqbal.

Iqbal represents Lahore and has impressive first-class statistics with bat and ball and he is expected to make his debut at Crook.

Potts will be without batsman Scott Oliver, who completes his football commitments with Hebburn Town. There are, however, places for young off-spinner Sid Corner Jnr and new signing Grant Parkin.

Crook captain Andrew Pratt said: “Stephen Chapman and I are still playing this year and we have two University lads who are joining the team this year; Ed Wells and George Westlake.

“We are hoping our overseas professional will be here by Saturday, but we are still trying to get him on a flight at the moment.

“His name is Daniel Doram and he is an ex-Sussex and Holland international player. Apart from that, we have the same team as last year playing.”