THE dynamics of Sunderland’s team are set to change with leading bowler Mitch Claydon having moved down to Kent on a one-month loan deal that could be extended.
The 30-year-old Durham seamer tops the Wearsiders’ league wicket-taking list with 19 victims, one behind the leading pair of David Hymers and Richard Waite.
His departure has seen the Ashbrooke club move quickly to re-register home-grown Chris Rushworth as their contracted Durham player. Rushworth had been temporarily registered with Washington in the newly-formed First Division, but that was always on the understanding that he could be called back to Sunderland if Claydon’s position changed.
So it will be back to waiting on Durham team news each week to see if Rushworth is available, although he is in the squad taking on Warwickshire this week. Unless the game finishes by tomorrow, he will not be available to take on Durham Academy on Saturday.
With the Emirates ICG booked, this game will be played at Ashbrooke with Sunderland also having to reckon without Craig Burdon, Mattie Dench and Arsalan Rahim, with the final make-up of the side not likely to be known until nearer the game.
The Academy have their usual stack of injury issues. Cole Pearce remains sidelined so, with Jack Hardy back at school, young Eddie Hurst from South Shields is handed another start.
Adam Hickey will be rested as there are one or two concerns about a niggling back problem, while all-rounder James Weighell, who has captained the side, is out for a month with a hand injury.
The two teams are nestled in mid-table, just the wrong side of halfway, but Chester-le-Street and Hetton Lyons continue to be among the front-runners, with the Cestrians entertaining a quickly improving Tynemouth on Saturday.
After losing their first three matches, Tynemouth have put together an unbeaten run that has lifted them away from the danger zone.
With David Hymers in outstanding form, they will pose a threat to Chester, who suffered from the Latham factor last week when dropping points in a high-scoring draw at South Shields.
The Ropery Lane side have David Foster and Usman Arshad back this week.
Hetton Lyons have three injury doubts ahead of their home match against Newcastle.
Gary Scott continues to struggle with his hamstring, while there are also concerns over Ryan Pringle (thigh) and Sean Tindale (shoulder), so final selection is being left as long as possible with all three being subject to late fitness tests.
After coping well with Chester on the back of a Tom Latham debut century, South Shields take their new player and new-found confidence to Roseworth Terrace where South North will provide another searching examination for the New Zealander new boy.
South North are able to include Paul Hindmarch.
Leaders Stockton entertain Blaydon, while bottom club Gateshead Fell take on Benwell Hill.
Tomorrow night sees round four (of five) of the T20 group games, with results now becoming critical for quarter-final qualification.
Chester-le-Street moved back into the top two in Group A last week and entertain Brandon at Ropery Lane.
Hetton Lyons probably need just one more win to secure qualification in Group B and play at South Shields, who are level with them on points. In Group D, Sunderland need to beat Durham Academy or face potential elimination.