Readers Durham County League: The magical talents of Deighton Butler might have gone, but Evenwood will attempt to make it four championship wins on the bounce.

The West Indian has been the driving force behind the club's recent success but the champions have decided on a change and have brought in another West Indian, paceman Rayad Emrit from Trinidad.

"Deighton was marvellous with bat and ball but it is time to move on and Rayad has been strongly recommended," said secretary Alf Teesdale.

"Obviously, we are hoping he can emulate the performances of Deighton but it will be a huge task since every club wants to beat the champions.

"We have managed three consecutive championships - it gets harder year by year but we are up for it," enthused Teesdale.

Emrit is expected to arrive tomorrow in time for Evenwood's opening game of the season at home to Mainsforth when Ryan Nicholson and Lee Forster, two talented youngsters who last season played under-15 cricket, are expected to be included.

Kimblesworth, who ran Evenwood a close second last season, will be without three Australians and have recruited a New Zealander.

Michael Fishwick has become coach at South Shields while Brendan Clancey and Gavin Swan, who spent some time teaching in the North-East, have returned down under.

Left-arm quickie Andrew McKay, who opens the bowling for Auckland, is their new overseas player while Richie Strong has returned from Lanchester to link up with his brother Barry.

Another newcomer is Lee Wright from Langley Park and it will be no surprise if Kimblesworth again mount a championship challenge.

Tudhoe have also replaced their overseas player with West Indian Sewranine Chattagoon, a 22-year old batsman, coming in for Pakistani Shahid Anwar who last season scored 813 runs for an average of 45.2.

David Ronson is the new captain and Stephen Thompson is also back in the frame after missing two years following an injury sustained while on holiday in Australia.

Yasas Tillakaratne returns to Etherley. The Sri Lankan topped 725 runs during 2004 to finish fourth in the league batting averages at 51.8.

Eddie Seery, who has also played for Evenwood, has retired and Carl McGregor has gone to Darlington. Colin Barker will again lead the side.

Pakistani Rizwan Quereshi is a newcomer at Esh Winning who have also signed wicket-keeper Michael Robson from Langley Park. David Watson captains the side with opening batsman David Lawlor his deputy.

Langley Park, second bottom last season, have replaced Brad Jose with Aussie David Crocker, an opening batsman.

Lee Wright has gone to Kimblesworth and Michael Robson to Esh Winning but Paul Clish is clear of the neck injury which caused him to miss last season.

A wicket-keeper, he should also strengthen the batting while another welcome addition is the returning Michael Fleming.

There is also a new professional at Mainsforth who have signed 20-year old Australian Sam Hogg from Perth. He is a right-hand batsman and quick bowler.

A further boost is the availability of Carl Dargue who was injured during 2004. David Fishburn will captain the side with the experienced Gary Purcell his deputy.

Travis Dowlin, a West Indian, returns to Ushaw Moor where he played five years ago.

An all-rounder, he has been in the Carlisle area. Local lad Stephen Hancock is captain with Andy Metcalfe vice captain. An early-season blow is the loss of Gary Whitfield through injury and he could be out for a month.

Willington, who unsuccessfully applied to join the Durham Senior League, have Chris Slattery as their overseas man.

He has played for Adelaide University and South Australia Cricket Academy.

Skipper Stephen Donnelly is back after injury and Robert Chismon, previously pro at Mainsforth, will turn out for the club as an amateur as will Keith Stones following his move from Bishop Auckland.

Following poor results in recent seasons, Shildon are hoping to build on the limited progress they made last year. Cameron Pearce as registered as professional for 2004 but will play as an amateur.

Former Bishop Auckland player Hiram Marambe, now working in London, may only be available on a limited basis.

There is no change at Crook Town, who following a very good start to the 2004 season, fell away fifth bottom. Stephen Ball, the former Durham County all-rounder, will continue in the dual role of professional and vice captain with Neil Davies at the helm.

Brandon are delighted to have Australian Jim Allenby back for a second season.

He was the leading runmaker last year with 927 runs averaging 54.5 and, with Steve Dunsford having moved to Sheffield, Brandon's runmaking will be heavily dependent on Allenby reproducing last season's exhilarating form.

Allenby, who takes over as captain, could include 16-year-old Stephen Wallace. Last season the talented youngster scored in excess of 1,000 runs at the various levels he played.

Hylton, whose membership of the Durham Coast League was not renewed after they resigned and had an application to the Durham Senior League rejected, are delighted with the welcome they have received in the league.

"We are ecstatic at the way we have been received by league officials and clubs and excited at the new challenge which lies ahead," said stalwart Owen Williamson.

Opening batsman David Tait has joined Hylton who this season will be led by all-rounder David Batty, a product of their youth development policy.