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Experience of a lifetime for Durham Academy prospects
Dukes ECB NEPL
The league management took the unprecedented step of allowing one of its games to have its format changed.
But there was a justifiable reason, as a number of the players bowled at the England and Australian teams in the nets on Saturday before the T20 international at the Emirates ICG.
Durham Academy indicated that they would struggle to field a team at Blaydon, so the league gave them special dispensation to start three hours later than usual and reduce the overs from 120 to 70.
Despite reservations elsewhere, the game provided no surprises with the hosts beating their young visitors.
The Academy were bowled out for 163 from 34.4 overs with Charlie Parker making 47 and Asher Hart sharing the honours with 33.
Graeme Bridge took five for 49 and Chris Varley (3-37) gave him excellent backing.
When Blaydon replied Bridge was again in the frame with an unbeaten 35 runs after Paul Freary (45) and Mark Drake (31) had set the pace for a six wicket victory in the 34th over with just seven balls remaining.
Gateshead Fell, despite providing Sunderland with their first win in eight games and not taking a single point, look like escaping relegation after the almost doomed South Shields lost again.
With just two games left they are trailing by 40 points and even winning both may not be sufficient to save them dropping into the newly-formed second division.
Even the batting of Gordon Muchall, often a major run-maker at county level in Durham's one-day games, could not save Shields who were bowled out for 110.
He was unbeaten on 59 after batting at number three. Lal Kumar (5-37) and Ryan Pringle (3-55) were the thorns in Shields' side before Gary Scott (54 no), along with the excellent Kumar (42), rattled up the runs in just 14.4 overs for an eight-wicket success.
Gateshead Fell were no better in performance than Shields, being bowled out for 104 after losing five wickets for 15 runs in a dramatic mid-order collapse. Matthew Dowell (4-16) and Dan Sanderson (2-7) fired the bullets before Danny Shurben (77no) in partnership with Simon Brown (23 no) gave Sunderland a ten-wicket win, their biggest of the season.
Champions Stockton gained their 14th win. They defeated Newcastle by 50 runs after Richard Waite (4-64) and Kevin Ward (3-40) were again masters of their bowling art. The Tynesiders were bowled out for 167 in 36.1 overs in reply to Stockton's 46 over innings of 217 in which Ward also hit a half century. Another 50 from opener David Seymour provided the inspiration.
Chester-le-Street figured in the day's highest scoring game against Benwell Hill, with over 550 runs and just 21 separating the teams at the conclusion with the result a draw.
Ben Mussett, Dan Young and Nick Jones all hit half centuries for Benwell while there was a superb century from Andrew Smith and 71 from Simon Birtwisle for the Cestrians.
South North hammered Tynemouth by nine wickets.
The first division promotion battle was turned on its head by the defeat of Brandon at Washington. Sacriston and Whitburn have now overtaken them with just 13 points separating the top pair.
Brandon are a further nine adrift heading into the final round of matches.