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NYSD eyes turn towards Sri Lanka T20
Two sides involved in the relegation dogfight look like being affected by events thousands of miles away, with their overseas professionals returning to Sri Lanka to take part in the inaugural SL Premier League T20 tournament which gets underway in early August.
Normanby Hall's Janaka Gunarathne left for home a week ago, his timing impeccable as he was just in time to be there when his wife gave birth.
He will be staying on to complete contractual commitments with Uthura in the SLPL, while Thornaby's Indika de Saram has been selected in the Basnahira squad and will leave at the end of the month.
Given the status of the tournament both clubs will probably be allowed substitute professionals, but finding adequate replacements at this time of year is a different matter.
At least Thornaby can look forward to a few more weeks with de Saram in their side, and he will feature at Billingham when the rock-bottom Synners desperately need to get a result if they are not to be cast adrift at the foot of the table.
The Sri Lankan's eventual departure represents a double blow to Thornaby following the loss of opening bowler Luke Metcalfe to division one promotion contenders Saltburn earlier this week, although they have a ready made replacement in the shape of Shaz Mahmood.
He joined from Middlesbrough a couple of weeks ago and is set to make his delayed debut this afternoon. Marc Bould, Danny Wade and Danny Burns all return for the visitors, while Billingham are at full strength.
Normanby are not too far from mid-table security, but the loss of Gunarathne has them looking nervously over their shoulder as they only have a 19-point cushion over the second relegation slot.
They, too, have an important game as they travel to the SCG to take on the team just one place below them, Stokesley.
The hosts appear to have overcome their early season struggles which saw them occupying the bottom position for the first few weeks, and they will view this game as an opportunity to move further up the table.
Former skipper Ian Still misses out for the home side, with promising youngster Tom Preece handed an opportunity.
At the opposite end of the table, Richmondshire are also casting anxious eyes towards the Sri Lankan T20 with long-serving professional Shanuka Dissanayake also named in one of the provisional squads.
A decision has not been made on whether he will be going back as yet, but his departure would represent a severe blow to the Dalesmen's title hopes.
Richmond hope to re-energise their championship bid when they entertain Guisborough today, and they have Mattie Cowling back from holiday with Craig Swainston retaining his place. The Priorymen are unchanged from the team that didn't play last time out.
Leaders Darlington defied the elements once again last week, the hard work that went into a major mopping up operation paying significant dividends when they re-established a 20-point lead over their rivals.
Barnard Castle are the visitors today, but will be missing leading batsman Ben Usher, although both James Quinn and Bret Upton return after missing out due to county commitments last week.
The Quakers have Liam Coates returning from suspension, and he slots into the vacancy left by the unavailable Jack Vickerman.
Third-placed Great Ayton are at Sedgefield where the home team are able to include former skipper Phil Heslop.
He gave up the captaincy recently because of a backlog of farm work caused by the atrocious weather - he is now unable to work because of that same reason and will play cricket. Ayton are at full strength, with Chris Witherley and Matt Wilkinson returning.
Middlesbrough welcome back Paul Johnston - he was pencilled in to return from the States last week but in the event would not have made it if the game had gone ahead.
Boro take on rivals Marton who are missing skipper Mattie Brown. Chris Veazey is expected to captain in his absence, while Mattie Connolly returns from holiday to face his former team-mates.
Second team opening bowler Adil Ahmed makes his seasonal first team debut for Hartlepool with Anthony Fawcett on holiday, and he will face a Marske side still harbouring injury concerns over the Carroll brothers, although Joe Wing is expected to return.
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