Newspaper article The Journal (Newcastle, England)

Cricket: NORTHERN ROCK NORTH EAST PREMIER LEAGUE SEASON PREVIEW

Newspaper article The Journal (Newcastle, England)

Cricket: NORTHERN ROCK NORTH EAST PREMIER LEAGUE SEASON PREVIEW

Article excerpt

Byline: CHRIS WEST

WHAT price everyone in the Northern Rock North East Premier League being hit for six this season?

That's the question particularly aimed at those eyeing up the championship as the dominant South Northumberland outfit go for six titles in a row.

On the last day of the 2007 campaign it looked for all the world as though their stupendous run of successes was about to come to an end, but in the most staggering of finishes Sunderland contrived to miss out on the title by just a single run, thereby handing South North a phenomenal fifth consecutive title.

Ominously, the champions' squad is the same as last year with the added 'safety valve' that Nicky Peng will play when needed. Skipper John Graham insists that despite doing the 'double' last time out his side didn't play as well as they could.

One club who want to rattle the lion's cage are Benwell Hill in their 125th anniversary year. Martin Pollard looks to have a powerful squad, with South African allrounder Rob Frylink likely to provide fireworks with both bat and ball.

Having played in the East Anglian Premier League last season he is already comfortable with English conditions, and his First-Class statistics suggest a powerful hitter and cutting-edge new ball bowler.

Uzair Mahomed starts today as the Durham contracted player, Mark Stoneman being the other allocation.

Another South African will be plying his trade at Jesmond. Sean Adair, who plays for Eastern Provinces, is a youngster who is already building a top-flight reputation as a quality batsman and useful off-spinner. Matt Hynd will captain Newcastle again and he will have either Gordon Muchall or Mark Stoneman as his County player.

South Shields were happy with their first season in the league, although they are looking for more consistency this time out.

The welcome return of Jonny Wightman has delighted Shields followers and it is expected he will form a potent spearhead with Matthew Muchall in the upcoming campaign. Western Australian Geoff Cullen will be the overseas player, and former club junior, Paul Muchall, is the Durham man.

Another Australian, all-rounder Grant Lindsay from Victoria, will also be enjoying the invigorating North Sea air as he settles in at Tynemouth. Skipper Graeme Hallam (pictured) will also be able to call upon either Gareth Breese or Moneeb Iqbal as his Durham contracted player (Breese plays today) while Dan Young, a promising young batsman from Alnwick has joined the club, along with wicketkeeper Greg Hollins.

Gateshead Fell have lost Nicky Phillips, but 22 year-old South African Martin Bekker has been recruited. He averages 40 at the top level of the game. Pete Towner is the new skipper and he will have either Will Gidman or Callum Thorp as his Durham choice. …

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