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Double header awaits
For the second week in succession teams in the Durham County League face a double header with matches scheduled to be played both today and on Monday.
After the stuttering start to the season, which saw no cricket in April and a much interrupted May, the sudden increase in tempo can't come soon enough for one side with Evenwood relishing the opportunity to lock horns with two close rivals for honours.
Two top class performances last weekend pushed Evenwood into second position, just 12 points behind champions Esh Winning, and in the second match on Sunday they defeated Brandon on the very last ball after scoring 11 to win in the final over.
An away game against Crook Town is followed by a home encounter with Esh across the bank holiday.
Neil Teesdale makes a timely return to the Evenwood side, although John Maughan, who made a successful return to cricket after a two year absence, will miss both games.
One key inclusion for the second match is Rashid Latif, a Newcastle University student recommended to the club by one of their former pros a couple of years ago.
He has not been available on Saturdays during that time, but on his occasional appearances he has impressed, and his runs and wickets against Brandon proved crucial.
Esh have skipper Eddie Watson back for their double, which starts with a trip to Mainsforth where their hosts still await news of Sri Lankan Ikram Abdeen.
He has been selected, but more in hope than expectation, and League chairman and club secretary John Irvine is standing by as, in his words, "the obvious automatic replacement for the pro."
Nigel Milner definitely plays in place of Mick Hill.
Tudhoe and Willington are the teams hot on the trail of the two leading sides with both facing testing weekends.
Tim Smalley is sidelined by a hamstring injury, but with Dan Mahaffey, Anthony Cairns and Dave Curry back in the team Tudhoe should give Brandon and unchanged Crook a run for their money.
The return of wicket keeper Stephen Bradwell to action means Willington are at full strength for their trip to Ushaw Moor, and the home game against Brandon.
In other team news Ushaw Moor have a full squad to pick from, as indeed do Crook, while Shildon welcome back Martin Howe and are hopeful Greg Upton will be free from work commitments to take his place for their matches at Langley Park today, and at home to Mainsforth tomorrow, this game brought forward from Monday.