SUMMER is coming – possibly!
Weather forecasters are suggesting that the jet stream, which is allegedly to blame for the horrendous weather that has blighted much of the Warmseal Durham Senior League cricket season, has at long last moved north – and should mean much-improved conditions in the next few weeks.
With fixture lists on the verge of breaking point, a period of relief cannot come too soon. Ironically for leaders Castle Eden, who initially left all their rivals in their own jet stream, better weather is expected as soon as Saturday, when they do not have a game.
That almost certainly means a change of leadership for the first time, with Burnmoor favourites to take over top spot when they entertain struggling South Hetton.
Moor are just a single point behind Castle Eden and will no doubt be targeting a major points haul when they tackle their second-bottom visitors, forcing their rivals to play catch-up for the first time.
Burnmoor will choose from a squad of 12, with Jimmy Daley expected to be back after missing out last week. South Hetton also have a returning player, in the shape of skipper Robbie Atherton, who replaces youngster Nathan Newton.
Two sides just below the leading pair, Felling and Whitburn, clash head on, both going into the match on the back of excellent performances last time out that re-ignited their title ambitions.
Felling have adopted a bold approach in recent weeks and while that backfired on one occasion it has also reaped dividends in the form of some high points returns.
They will pursue the same attacking philosophy in the coming weeks, but they look like having to do so without the services of skipper Chris Taylor, who has returned to army duties in Germany for a short while before having to help bolster the soldiers’ involvement in Olympics security. Alex Brown takes Taylor’s place.
Whitburn also have to cope with work-related absences. Paul Cook, Peter Marshall and Lee Henderson all miss Saturday’s game, but skipper Dave Bell is back at the helm, and both Aidan Bannister and second-team captain Craig Henderson earn call-ups.
With the rain hopefully soon to become just an unpleasant memory, fourth-placed Horden do not have to worry that they won’t have their Brolly on Saturday.
Youngster Matthew Billyard is handed an opportunity in place of Brian Brolly for the home game against an improving Boldon who, with the return of James Coyne from holiday, are at full strength for the first time this season.
Marsden have a number of absentees ahead of their trip to Norton.
Skipper Chris Mann is away, while Patrick Jackson looks like missing the next four or five weeks after splitting his hand open in last week’s match warm-up exercises, an injury that required 10 stitches.
James Sneller will captain Marsden, while opening bowlers Paul Cassell and Stephen Neilson are back.
Michael Fishwick and Kevin Dixon junior return to put defending champions Kimblesworth at full strength for the visit of Durham City, while Eppleton are once again unchanged for their derby trip to Philadelphia, who have to reckon without Tom Skilbeck, who has returned to former club Sunderland.