HAPPILY for them, but less so for Countywatch Extra, several of the players you read about here every week have started to graduate to the big boys’ Countywatch.

Middlesex finally gave Paul Stirling a championship start, while Andrew Balbirnie and Graeme McCarter have had first XI games too.

Being stand-in keeper at Durham means Stuart Poynter is unlikely to get promoted unless Phil Mustard gets injured, but that doesn’t stop him performing for the county 2nd XI, for whom he has already played 18 times this summer.

He’s even playing club cricket, for Brandon in the North East Premier League, and this weekend played three games. On Friday night he made 53not out off 32 balls in a T20 against Whitmore, with three 6s and five 4s.

The following day he made 5 against Boldon in the 50 over league. On Sunday he was back with the county, scoring an unbeaten 19 against a North Yorkshire South Durham League XI.

On Tuesday he was back with the 2nd XI 50-over competition, making 7 against Leeds/Bradford MCCU and taking two catches and a stumping.

Andy Balbirnie was in action for Middlesex 2nds against Essex on Monday in the Second Eleven Trophy, scoring 32 and bowling 9-1-30-1.

He was out for 9 on the first morning of the three-day game against Essex which started on Tuesday which was badly affected by rain. He bowled (4-2-14-0) and was unbeaten on 6 in the second innings when the game was abandoned.

Meanwhile, Shane Getkate tuned up on Sunday for his Northern Knights debut with a knock of 27 against Oxford CC for Sunbury.

Pembroke’s Ireland U17 player Sonny Cott made his first Surrey Premier League appearance of the season opening the batting for Leatherhead against Banstead. Leatherhead, who include former test player Shaun Udal, lost and Cott contributed just a single before he was bowled by Shinwari.

And finally, news of a former Irish international who is still playing Premier League cricket, this time in Cheshire. Former Bready keeper Stephen Ogilby, who won the last of his 15 caps in 2004, is averaging 30 this season for Chester Boughton Hall. Now 38, he made just 6 at the weekend against Alderley Edge.