NE Premier League: Akhtar, Watson can lift Seaham Harbour for Tudhoe test

Washington Cricket Club line up ahead of last week's opening game
Washington Cricket Club line up ahead of last week's opening game
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A DISAPPOINTING defeat at Willington left Seaham Harbour with just two points to show for their opening day effort.

 And they are on the road again this Saturday when they travel to take on new boys Tudhoe, who will be playing their first Premier League home game since promotion from the Durham League.

Harbour just never got going with the bat, despite skipper Ian Pattison (37) doing his best to inspire his team-mates, and the tail caved in as the last five wickets went down for four runs to leave Harbour grounded on just 98. 
 But Tudhoe fared little better, being rolled over by 106 runs at Sacriston, so there is much to play for when the sides lock horns at St Charles Road.

Seaham are boosted by the first return to action of the season for Shoaib Akhtar, and, with Anthony Watson set to make his debut after his move from Premier Division outfit Hetton Lyons, Harbour will have a fresh look about them.

Despite Tudhoe’s pre-season optimism, it was always known that the loss of overseas star Kushen Kishen would be difficult to absorb as he had been such an influential part of their promotion success

The fact they are missing skipper Ross Hodgson on Saturday won’t help their cause.

Selection of his replacement is delayed, although Ian Grainger will captain.

New boys Burnmoor began as they left off in the Durham League, with victory at Felling suggesting they will be every bit as competitive at the new level as they have been for many seasons now.

However, victory was not achieved without a few scares along the way, notably a recovery from 75-8 to 135 all out courtesy of skipper Alec Linsley and youngster McKenzie Wright, who put on 61 match-winning runs for the ninth wicket.

And thereby hangs a dilemma for Moor as, with star batter Paul Craig due to make his seasonal debut against Sunderland this weekend, it left them with an embarrassment of riches, with the youngster stepping down to the seconds where he will get the chance to bat much higher up the order.

Sunderland, meanwhile, expect Indian Bravesh Shetty to be in the country in time for the weekend – he was due to collect his visa and fly over today – while Chris Dorothy is also available after work commitments kept him out of last week’s home defeat at the hands of Brandon.

Having signed Durham’s Stuart Poynter in time for last week’s match at Eppleton, Boldon stick with the same side for their home game with Felling, who also name an unchanged line-up.

Both sides have cause to look back on last Saturday and wonder how they got the results they did – Felling letting Burnmoor off the hook twice and Boldon still unable to quite believe how they salvaged a winning draw after the most incredible of final overs.

Needing three to win from the last five balls, and with five wickets in hand, Eppleton somehow contrived to score just two runs while losing four wickets – such is the romance of cricket!

Eppleton get the chance to erase that nightmare from their minds when they go to South Hetton, who will have been having bad dreams of their own after being routed by Washington.

The scale of that defeat means they still have to register their first point of the summer, and they make one change to their side, with Liam Houghton coming in for Niall Heron. For Eppleton, it’s same again as they still await progress with their potential overseas signing.

In Saturday’s other games, Sacriston are likely to be unchanged for their trip to Brandon, and Washington expect Anand Singh to have arrived in the country in time to make his first appearance at Willington.

On Sunday, Burnmoor make the long trip to Driffield in the Royal London National Club Championship first round, and Brandon host Blaydon.