Eppleton have a very tough opener, away at local rivals Hetton Lyons on Saturday – in the delayed start to the season.
Both clubs – who finished level on points in 2017 – show a few changes from last season, and the opening-day game promises to be a cracker.
Eppleton have Josh Coughlin signed up as their Durham player, and the Church Road men have also snapped up Connor Whitlock from Darlington, Daniel Stephenson from Sacriston and Dominic Stuart, who is at Durham University.
Secretary John Smithson said: “We aim to better our position of sixth last season and be harder to beat and certainly more competitive in this campaign.”
Hetton Lyons skipper Jarvis Clay, whose men ended up in fifth place last summer, said: “We are looking to improve our position from last year.
“We have strengthened well with South African Chris Ralston, Stuart Walker has returned from Felling and Carl Watson has joined from Horden, plus Jack Burnham, from the Durham Academy, but he is injured at present.”
Whitburn, who begin away to Tynemouth, have added a few new players and will be captained by Paul Shields this season.
Brydon Carse will be fit for early May and Jackson Edmondstone looks an exciting overseas amateur, who likes to hit the ball hard.
Chris McBride (Durham Academy) and the South Shields pair of Matthew Muchall and Chris Stewart, alongside Philip Bell, who has returned to the area from London have also signed up to boost the Villagers.
Tynemouth have signed up Scotland international Mark Watt. He is only 21, but he has already played more than 40 games for his national team, taken more than 50 wickets and is a player with a bright future in front of him.
Watt is held in high esteem by Scotland coach Grant Bradburn and captain Kyle Coetzer.
Tynemouth have also secured the services of a second Scotland international, Mike Jones. An opening batsman from Ormskirk CC, he has been given a contract to play with Durham this year. He will play for Tynemouth whenever Durham fixtures allow.
Chester-le-Street start their season at home to the Durham Academy.
The Cestrians have recruited well in gaining the services of batsman/wicketkeeper Jake McCann from Durham City, spinner Liam Burgess from Burnmoor and Tudhoe all-rounder Alex McGrath.
Cestrians skipper John Coxon said: “We have an exciting bunch, with lots of excellent young players, keen to prove how good they are.
“The new lads will give us extra strength and added competition within the squad.
“Added to that, upcoming youngsters Josh O’Brien and Ollie Barrett should both be pushing for regular first-team cricket, so the future looks very bright.”
“We are hopeful of improving on last year’s third-place finish (before a 90-point penalty dropped them to eighth following the end of the season) and, as ever, pushing for the league title and cups.”
Newly promoted Sacriston welcome Newcastle in their first match in the top flight.
Martin Hubber will be out for most of the season, with Graeme Wrightson taking over as skipper.
Wrightson said: “We are looking to consolidate after promotion last season and hopefully challenge for honours in the cups.
“We will have Will Gidman, when not playing for Kent, and have signed James Thompson from Whitburn and Matthew Potts from the Durham Academy.”
Newcastle, skippered by the ever-reliable Jacques Du Toit, have signed Alex Simpson from Eppleton and Penrith wicketkeeper Kieran Trevaskis, while Dan Humble has returned from two years living in Australia.
Felling begin at home to Benwell Hill, while defending champions South Northumberland start at home to Stockton.