Newspaper article The Journal (Newcastle, England)

Mitch a Big Boost as Season Begins; Cricket with CHRIS RUSHWORTH FOR WHAT IT'S WORTH

Newspaper article The Journal (Newcastle, England)

Mitch a Big Boost as Season Begins; Cricket with CHRIS RUSHWORTH FOR WHAT IT'S WORTH

Article excerpt

Byline: CHRIS RUSHWORTH

THIS weekend will be a big one in local cricket circles with the new North East Premier League season getting under way.

I will be following my home team Sunderland CC very closely, and they got a major boost recently with the signature of Durham's Mitch Claydon.

County players have a big role to play in the NEPL, and Mitch can help guide younger lads in the right manner.

Also joining up with Sunderland is overseas player Brian Chari from Zimbabwe, a top-order batsman and spinner. Again, hopefully his experience can be well used.

I think the team to look out for this year will be Newcastle, who with the likes of county player Michael Richardson, who because of his South African background is classed as an overseas player in the league, and possibly another Durham player alongside new recruit Ben Raine and ex-Leicestershire man Jacques Du Toit, boast a very impressive batting line-up on a batsmen-friendly pitch.

I think they should go quite well this season.

As always I see South Northumberland, Chester-le-Street and, as in more recent seasons, Blaydon, fighting hard to be top of the ladder come September.

Blaydon have lost a few players over the winter but have also recruited well, with ex-Durham and Middlesex bowler Danny Evans the notable signature.

Chester again have recruited very well after losing a few senior heads. They have bolstered their attack with the signings of Jonathan Kean from Norton, Kevin Dixon of Kimblesworth and Durham's Usman Arshad.

Chris Youldon comes in to replace retired veteran David Wilson behind the sticks. I expect to see them make early inroads.

As far as South North go, I'm not aware of any major signings, just a few promoted juniors/second team players being bred into the team.

But the ever-present old fellas John Graham, Adam Heather, Stephen Humble, James Miller and Lee Crozier will provide vital experience as always, And with some classy players like Paul Coughlin of Durham and Northumberland captain Adam Craggs, they have the making of a fine team once more.

At the bottom I think it could be quite close this year as the top three teams seem to have become stronger, which leaves a good battle among quite a few clubs to avoid the dreaded wooden spoon. …

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