DAWDON’S hopes of a first 3D Durham Coast League title for 45 years have been given a massive boost by the return to fitness of Mark Ewart.
With pace bowler Anthony Watson also back at Green Drive after a spell with Premier League outfit Hetton Lyons, Dawdon look to have sufficient firepower to push leaders Murton to the limit in the final two games.
The Seaham side last won the championship back in 1967, but the chance is there to take their place in history by winning the last ever crown if they can make up the nine-point deficit on their rivals.
Dawdon end their programme with two home games, the first tomorrow against Easington, the only team to have beaten them this season in league combat. And it was a heavy defeat as they were bowled out for around 50 in easily their worst day at the office.
But the news that Ewart has fully recovered from the shoulder injury that had sidelined him for a few weeks, and that Watson will play in the last two games, has provided a significant lift.
Watson, a Dawdon lad, left Seaham Harbour during the close season to test his talents in the Premier League, and he has been a tremendous success for Hetton Lyons, taking 31 league wickets for them at an average of just 11.45 each, a performance that currently places him sixth in those averages.
But, with Lyons’ season having nothing left at stake, Watson felt he would like to help his home-town team get over Ewart’s absence, and the pair of them together could provide the decisive cutting edge.
Dawdon’s final game next week is against Hylton, who are coincidentally Murton’s opponents tomorrow, so the Billy Hardy Centre-based outfit will have a very clear say in the destination of the championship as the final curtain comes down.
Murton have their destiny in their own hands as they have a nine-point cushion at the top of the table, but, with the split 25/20 points win scenario to consider, it is not quite as simple as two wins being sufficient to ensure success.
The good news for them, however, is that Keith Chapman has benefited from the weather-enforced rest of last weekend and is fully fit for the final push, something that means the table-toppers will be at full strength.
The two sides contesting the Andrew Dixon Cup will have another go at playing the weather battered final on Sunday, with Washington hosting Boldon CA (1.30pm start).
There will be much relief amongst league officials if the game does go ahead.
Given that the competition should have been finished seven weeks ago, the executive provided special dispensation to play the final on one of the grounds of the competing sides rather than the normal neutral venue of Murton.
Washington won the draw to host the game and expect to have a full side available to them, other than their two Academy starlets, James Thompson and Adam Hickey.
The latter’s season has been prematurelyended by injury.
Boldon CA have both David Batty and Carl Watson returning, Watson fully recovered from his hamstring strain, and they put the in-form side at full strength as they go for a cup double.
Tomorrow, Boldon CA entertain Seaham Harbour, while Washington go to Ryhope.
Elsewhere, Silksworth host Peterlee and Seaham Park welcome Bill Quay.