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Dissanayake stays to give Shire boost
Richmondshire's title hopes have been given a massive boost as they head into the final ten games of this most unique of seasons.
The news that the popular Sri Lankan Shani Dissanayake has opted to finish the campaign rather than return home for the start of the new SLPL T20 competition which begins in August could not have been better timed for the one club with a realistic chance of chopping down Darlington.
His current value to the team is demonstrated by the fact that he averages 50 with the bat, and also has 29 wickets to his name.
Richmond, the only unbeaten side, are 28 points behind the Quakers having lost 23 more hours playing time than the table toppers, and they will be desperately hoping that the curse of the weather doesn't strike again this weekend as they are due to play at Mandale Bottoms, a ground which tends to suffer more than most when there is rain about.
Ali Raper returns to the Richmond side for this one, while Thornaby will be missing Mike Muldowney as their own Sri Lankan, Indika de Saram plays one of his last games before jetting off for the SLPL.
With Thornaby just four points above the drop zone the game is a crucial one for both teams, and victory for the visitors would set them up for their home game against Darlington next weekend.
The Quakers have home advantage today when they take on the Stokesley side, with the leading performers on both teams likely to have a major influence on proceedings.
Everyone knows about the deadly Darlington wicket taking trio of Jon Barnes, Peter Armstrong and Doug Mulholland, who occupy the top three positions in the league rankings, but they will come up against the leading run scorer in Andrew Weighell, while South African Brandon Viret and fellow pro James Beaumont have 58 league wickets between them.
Mattie Wheeler replaces Grant Sowerby in the home dressing room, while Ian Still returns for the visitors, although Will Brown and Chris Oliver are unavailable.
And the Synners are boosted by the return of Craig Symington for the home game against Normanby Hall who have to reckon without Chris Trillo who is in Italy preparing for his wedding next week. Israr Hussain has recovered from a groin strain.
Marske play Guisborough, the second Windy Hill Lane meeting in two days of the teams following their Kerridge Cup meeting last night. The game pits brother against brother with Priory skipper, and former Seasider, Chris Nicholls returning to face the home team led by Jon Nicholls.
With both James Lines and Richard Dunn unavailable for the visitors the return of Jon Coates is timely, while Saul Clifford is promoted.
Great Ayton's ground has suffered a pounding from the weather, and with the weather forecasters giving a hint that summer might just be on the way the Leven Park faithful should get the chance to enjoy a full afternoon's cricket for once when their side entertain Hartlepool.
With Josh Thompson under suspension Tom Leng is handed an opportunity after scoring a barrow load of runs for the second team, while Pools have Anthony Fawcett back in harness.
Barnard Castle have both Ben Usher and Mike Dixon back in the team for the home game against Marton who have skipper Mattie Brown back in charge, while Sedgefield include Ed Johnson and Tom Young in the team to face Middlesbrough.
In division one, Saltburn hope to build on their healthy lead when they entertain Northallerton, while rivals Redcar, currently second, travel to Seaton Carew with the chance to put some space between themselves and third-placed Bishop Auckland who do not have a game.