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Brandon look for sunshine
9:00am Saturday 16th July 2011 in Durham County League
WITH the weather playing a major part in last week's league proceedings leaders Brandon will be casting an anxious glance at the skies today in the hope they don't suffer another setback in their quest for a first ever title.
Brandon went into last week's double dose of league fixtures with a more than healthy 39 point lead at the top of the table. But when their Saturday game at Marsden was the only one to be washed out they had 15 points lopped off that lead, and then Esh Winning's dramatic one wicket Sunday win at Langley Park kept the pressure on.
And Esh sit out today's matches as they were due to play Etherley, something that could be to their significant advantage if the weather forecasts of the last few days prove accurate. With rain expected again Brandon will be desperately hoping that they can get a full game in at Evenwood and keep their fate in their own hands, while Esh might be forgiven for having the prayer mats out!
The positive news for Brandon is that their squad is back up to full strength with Stephen Parnaby, Joe Ashdown and Craig Hewitt all returning.
Crook still believe they have an outside chance of making an impression on the title race, but a 64 point deficit, even with a game in hand, will be hard to claw back over nine matches, although they do have a chance to showcase their fading credentials when they take on third-placed Willington.
Steve Chapman will play today - he missed last week's match as he was helping out with a junior touring side from Australia. He should now be around until the beginning of August when he will be returning down under, and with Greg Upton also available again Town are at full strength as, indeed, are visitors Willington.
Former player Greg Malcolm returns to play for Marsden. The left-arm bowler hasn't played for some time because of work commitments, but his pedigree suggests he will be a good addition to the team, and his homecoming begins in today's clash with a Langley Park side that is able to select Danny Wilkinson and, possibly, Peter Caulfield.
Mainsforth have been hit by the news that John Cavanagh has left them to join NE Durham League outfit Coundon, and with Adam Watson working they bring in Shaun Poulter and Ian Thompson as replacements for their home game against an unchanged Shildon team.
Ushaw Moor, who entertain Tudhoe, bring in Eric Stark for the unavailable Shaun Walker.