Foster's Northumberland and Tyneside Senior League: Following the decision of Blyth to join the Three Counties Northumberland League, the second division will operate with only 10 teams and will not start the season until May 7.

The first division continues to have 12 sides and they open their programme on Saturday.

Tynedale clinched the championship with a match to spare last summer and, with few changes in personnel, are expected to again challenge.

Stuart Graham has returned as professional after scoring almost 600 runs averaging 42.8 last season.

Another boost is the availability of Scott Kay who last year topped the League averages, hitting 706 runs at 88.3.

Kay will be vice captain to Mark Armstrong.

They provide experience but two promising youngsters with Northumberland Academy, Joe Barber and Thomas Cant, are likely to figure in the side at some stage.

Leadgate and Ashington tied on points for the runners-up position. The former have recruited Pakistani Rohan Rafiq, a left-hand batsman and left-arm slow bowler. Paul Hutchinson starts his 12th season as captain with the experienced Masood Mirza his deputy.

Stephen Robinson has departed but Lee Murray has joined from Shotley Bridge and Paul McCourt returns to the club.

There is little change at Ashington, who will be minus skipper David Rutherford for the first three games.

Swalwell have signed Stuart Patterson from Sunderland and Mark Rowell, who has moved into the area but a big blow is the departure of Stephen Humble to South Northumberland.

Simon Clark has linked up with newly-promoted Ponteland.

Swalwell's new professional is Aussie Mark Cosgrove who was the Sir Donald Bradman Young Cricketer of the Year during 2004.

Sacriston have also gone for an Australian as their professional with Patrick Molenari from Fremantle, a left-arm bowler, recruited in a drive to improve the fortunes of a side which narrowly avoided relegation last September. Peter Shield is back at the club from Ryton.

Donald Brown takes over from Peter Collingwood as skipper at Shotley Bridge, who will be looking to the younger members of the club to impress.

Brothers Andrew and John Stokoe, in particular, are expected to be given a chance especially as Phil Taylor, Mark Smith and Lee Murray have left. Former Durham County all-rounder David Jackson is professional.

Ponteland, who won promotion along with Burnopfield, have Malcolm Clark as pro and he is joined in the team by his brother Simon.

Jamaican Nikitta Miller is the new professional at Annfield Plain who have also recruited former Durham County player Martin Speight as they attempt to improve on a disappointing 2004 season.