IF the weather can behave itself, Chester-le-Street are all set for a stupendous weekend, with Saturday’s Dukes North East Premier league clash with old foes South North followed by the excitement of T20 finals day on Sunday.
Despite two more total washouts than South North, Chester are just six points behind them in the table, and also within 14-point striking distance of leaders Sunderland.
With South North having won the first encounter between the pair, back in sunny April, there is also the little matter of revenge at stake.
On that occasion, the Gosforth outfit bowled Chester out for 141 to win by 42 runs and it is the fragility of their batting line-up that has been of most concern to the Cestrians this season, even though it is accepted that it has been a “summer” for the bowlers when teams have actually been able to get on the pitch.
After the league clash, the two sides make their way to Stockton to take part in the T20 finals on Sunday. Chester are first on against Blaydon at 11am. The second semi begins at 2pm, with South North taking on Stockton, while the final begins at 5.30pm.
League chairman Keith Robson was enthusiastic about the prospect, saying: “This is one of the highlights of the league calendar and we’re delighted to be taking the event to another new venue. Stockton have the experience of staging first-class cricket and we are all confident of putting on another successful finals day.”
Chester spokesman Tony Birbeck is also excited about the next few days, telling the Echo: “Setting the weather aside, it’s a big weekend for the club as we look to claw back some points on South North as our first priority, while Sunday’s competition is one that every club will be desperate to progress on to the next level through.”
The “next level” is an appearance in the last 32 nationally, with a regional finals day on August 5 on the ground of Central Yorkshire League (CYL) side Oulton. Sunday’s victors will face the CYL representative, while the NYSD winner will play the Ribblesdale League qualifier in the other semi-final.
The Cestrians should be up for the fight, having a full squad at their disposal on both days, while South North also at full strength.
Sunderland would be quite happy for the two teams on their tail to slug each other to a standstill in the league encounter as it would provide an opportunity to stretch their lead when they welcome bottom club Gateshead Fell to Ashbrooke.
The Wearsiders should prove too powerful for winless bottom club Fell, but Chris Rushworth is on Durham County duty. They await news on Ruel Brathwaite’s availability.
Durham Academy visit Newcastle, while unchanged Hetton Lyons entertain Tynemouth and South Shields travel to Blaydon to take on the fourth member of the leading quartet who appear to have the title battle to themselves.