HAVING completed a hat-trick of league titles, Dunnington are the firm favourites to extend their domination of the Hunters York and District Senior League as they will again have a star-studded line-up on show.

Collis King continues to skipper the side and, although they will be without West Indian star paceman Kirk Powell, who took 64 wickets last term, as well as spinner Steve Precious and John McHale, who have both left the Common Road club, more than adequate replacements appear to have been added.

Ajaz Akhtar, the Pakistan-born skipper of Cambridgeshire's Minor County side, has been recruited from Peterborough Town and 19-year-old Masood Asim is arriving as the club's overseas player.

Akhtar, who is a quality batsman and right arm medium pacer, has played 15 first-class one-day games over a period of 12 years, his last appearance being against Yorkshire in last year's Cheltenham & Gloucester Trophy.

Asim is a left-hand bat and off-break bowler from Lahore who has a top score of 44no in his three first-class games and 86 in top rank one-day cricket in Pakistan.

With Dunnington seemingly out on their own, the focus of attention will no doubt centre on the fight for the runners-up spot with a number of clubs fancying their chances.

Acomb and Woodhouse Grange were the main challengers last year and both will have the services of the same overseas players.

Acomb's Sanjay Rodrigo has 51 first-class games under his belt and made over 500 runs and took 28 wickets for the York-based side in 2003, while Grange's Kamran Sajid, who has figured in 26 first-class games in Pakistan, was the winner of the Tony Frith Award for the top contracted player when his 626 runs and 39 wickets helped the Grange to third place.

Three clubs - Easingwold, Beverley Town and division one champions Sheriff Hutton Bridge - have decided to rely on home grown talent but all are expected to hold their own in the top flight.

Clifton Alliance have had top flight overseas players for a number of years and new skipper Jonathan Stevens will be hoping that West Indian Lorenzo Ingram will be a worthy successor to Luke Wells, who hit 840 runs last summer.

York II owed much to their two Australians, Nash Stone and Sean Hunter, whose combined talents provided more than 1,700 runs and 63 wickets to their successful promotion campaign.

The duo may be missing from the Clifton Park line-up this year so much will depend on how Aussie Scott Gregory performs if York are to hold on to their newly acquired status.

Sean Stuchbery will again line up for Pickering, who will be hoping for a bigger contribution with the bat from the Queenslander to augment his useful bowling.

Heworth have one of three South Africans in their ranks in Darius Slabbert, who will figure in the plans of new skipper Mark Lynch, while Sessay and Thirsk have both opted for Australians.

The east coast is likely to provide the front runners in division two with Bridlington, Sewerby and Scarborough II probably in contention.

Hemingbrough may provide an outside challenge as they will again have the services of Maqsood Akbar, whose record-breaking feats last year played a major part in Hemingrough's successful first campaign.

Updated: 10:49 Friday, April 23, 2004