ON the final day of the NEPL season South North head to Ashbrooke with their championship fate in the hands of both themselves and Durham Academy.
Whatever the Bulls are able to do at Sunderland, if the Cestrians match or better it in their Ropery Lane clash with the Academy then they will retain their crown. But if South North do well, and Durham’s youngsters dish out the same treatment to Chester-le-Street that they did last Sunday, then the title will be returning to Roseworth Terrace.
Just six short days ago the Academy triumphed at the Lane in emphatic fashion to win the Banks Salver, and if they repeat that performance they could well bring an end to Chester’s title hat-trick dreams.
The Academy won the 45-over final by an impressive 68 runs, with Rammi Singh and South African Keaton Jennings in scintillating form with the bat, and Jamie Harrison once again troubling the home team with his left-arm pace. Those three will all be in action again while Chester’s only doubt is over Graeme Cessford’s availability.
With home advantage the Wearsiders are likely to provide stiff opposition as the Bulls try to gather as many points as possible and hope that Street are turned into a cul-de-sac by the youngsters. As expected the Gosforth outfit are at full strength as they attempt to complete a remarkable comeback which has seen them reel in a once massive Cestrians points lead. Sunderland go into the game with a full squad at their disposal, including Chris Rushworth.
Gateshead Fell will be glad to see the back of 2011. They are certain to finish bottom, although with the pyramid system currently in turmoil it looks like Fell’s NEPL status is secure. They end with a trip to Tynemouth, but won’t have Matt Milton who has returned to Australia. The home side also have selection issues with Andrew Smith, Matty Brown and skipper Barry Stewart out. Ben Debnam captains in his absence.
Benwell Hill are delighted to have signed Zohaib Khan again. 2012 will represent the fourth year at Denton Bank for the outstanding Pakistani, currently fifth in the league batting rankings, and third in the bowling.
Unchanged Hill end their campaign with a derby at Jesmond, opponents Newcastle include Rob Howarth for rugby-playing Jamie Carding.
Hetton Lyons have sizzled in the second half of the season – they are on an 11-game unbeaten run culminating in last week’s demolition job on Stockton. The secret of their success is easy to see with Gary Scott (719) and Shaun Birbeck (705) first and second in the league run scorer’s charts, and Ryan Pringle (48) topping the wicket-takers list. The terrific trio are all available for the Lyons final match at home to Blaydon who are able to include Mark Stoneman in their starting line-up.
There’s just pride at stake at Wood Terrace as full strength South Shields go for a win that would lift them above opponents Stockton and end a disappointing campaign on a positive note.