AS the weather played a huge part in the local cricket scene three games did go ahead in the NEPL, and batsmen took the chance to hit back after a bowler-dominated opening to the season.
Two superb centuries lit up the programme, with one of them, scored by Sunderland skipper Dan Shurben, helping propel his team to the top, giving them a 19-point lead over Blaydon, whose meeting with Chester-le-Street was one of the waterlogging casualties.
Shurben’s 144 dominated an unbroken second wicket stand of 195 with Michael Turns (45no) as their team rattled up 205-1, a total that proved out of their hosts’ reach as Chris Rushworth (4-23) and Kieran Waterson (3-25) combined to skittle their opponents for 108.
The second ton came at South North. Coming in at 64-4 Jimmy Miller’s 102 not out transformed the match with Benwell Hill. The fifth wicket partnership with John Graham (71) was worth 160, with Miller reaching his 50 off 60 balls, and his century off 23 more.
Set a target of 229-5 Hill were never in trouble after an opening stand of 68 between Phil Nicholson (31) and Ali Maiden (56), but settled for a draw on 181-5 in 52 overs.
South Shields made it two wins in a row to move into third place after skipper Mattie Muchall turned in a brilliant bowling performance to floor Hetton Lyons for 112. Muchall sent down one ball short of 19 overs, seven of which were maidens, and took out six visiting batsmen for 41 runs.
With Kris McShane chipping in with three, Lyons were caged, and despite a fightback led by Jon Malkin and Kamran Shah, who shared six wickets, Shields were always in the driving seat and won with three wickets to spare.