Sky’s the limit again for T20 kings Chester

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CHESTER-le-Street stand just one match away from a third consecutive appearance in front of the Sky TV cameras.

And they have home advantage in their favour as they bid for a place at the prestigious ECB National T20 Cup finals day.

The Cestrians take on Bradford League side Pudsey Congs at Ropery Lane on Sunday (1.30pm).

The winners are guaranteed their place at the Kia Oval on Friday, September 13, when the semi-finals and final will be broadcast live.

The other three matches, in what are effectively the national quarter-finals, feature Wimbledon playing Frocester, Peterborough taking on Banbury and Ormskirk meeting Hyde.

But Chester will not be worrying about those games until they have seen off one of the more famous names in club cricket.

The Congs have quite a reputation in Bradford League cricket, but haven’t won that league title since 2010, and they have no chance of doing so this season either, as they are currently in mid-table and well off the pace.

But they defeated the South Yorkshire and Yorkshire Premier League representatives in the last round, and will no doubt prove challenging opponents for the Cestrians.

The T20 showdown is sandwiched between league games on Saturday and Monday, with South Shields due at Ropery Lane and then a trip to Tynemouth to round off the weekend.

The Cestrians expect to be at full strength for the three days. But Usman Arshad has been added to the Durham squad for their County Championship game, so, if he is selected, youngster George Harrison will step up to replace him.

Tynemouth are at full strength for both days – Nick Armstrong is back and Andrew Smith also returns.

Under-15 strike-bowler Finn Lonnberg keeps his place after impressing over the last fortnight.

South Shields could not have asked for a more testing weekend in their bid to avoid relegation – after the match at Chester, they follow up with a home game against South North on Monday.

It is hard to see how they can squeeze their first win of the season out of those two matches, even if they have the services of Gordon Muchall.

Relegation rivals Gateshead Fell appear to have the easier double when they start with a home game against Durham Academy, who continue to have injury problems.

They then they go to Benwell Hill on Monday, when there may be some sore heads in the home dressing room, if the hosts have won the Banks Salver for the first time 24 hours earlier.

The Academy’s weekend ends at Sunderland, and with a possible cup tie to accommodate between the two league games, their already creaking squad could be stretched to the limit.

James Weighell has been back on the treatment table after a recurrence of his back problem, and with Ollie Ashford and Ben Whitehead also on the injured list, the make-up of their team is likely to be a moveable feast.

Sunderland begin with a trip to champions-elect Stockton, although, with both Jamie Harrison and Keaton Jennings in Durham’s Championship squad, the league leaders will have to do battle with more modest resources than usual, which may help the Ashbrooke club in their bid to cause an upset.

Hetton Lyons have a home game against Blaydon, followed by a trip to Jesmond to take on Newcastle. While they should be unchanged on Saturday, overseas pro Lal Kumar is still struggling with a side strain.

On Monday, Ryan Pringle will be unavailable as Durham have a YB40 match.