On a day when the weather held sway leaders South North managed to find the one ground where the most play was possible, and even though there wasn’t quite enough time to squeeze out a win the Bulls picked up more points than any other to extend their advantage at the top.
Just two more Premier matches saw any play, with Newcastle the most frustrated side when their game at the Emirates ICG against the Academy was abruptly ended when they were just five runs from victory in a high scoring encounter.
South North scored 191-7 in 49 overs at Hetton Lyons, the total representing something of a recovery after they lost their first four batsmen for 21 as Lal Kumar (2-20) struck early blows. Adam Cragg (38) began the rebuilding job in partnership with Jimmy Miller, who went on to top score with six boundaries in his 60, and with Dave Rutherford adding some late impetus with an unbeaten 35 the Bulls managed to set a challenging target.
Lyons ambitions of a successful run chase were soon downgraded to a fight for survival after Steve Humble (3-34) and Jonny Wightman (2-23) put them on the defensive, only Kumar (42) managing to stem the flow of wickets as he cracked five fours and a six. But his fight ensured the hosts would be successful in keeping the Bulls at bay, their innings closing on 100-7 after 39 overs. The plus for South North was that the 13 points they took from the game increased their lead at the top of the tree to 20.
With their innings reduced when play eventually started at the Emirates, the Academy youngsters rattled up 241-3 before declaring after 53 overs. At that stage Jack Burnham was 111 not out after a superb 127-ball knock in which he struck ten fours and three sixes, sharing in partnerships of 99 with Jack Clark (53) and 93 with Asher Hart (45no).
Newcastle could have gone into their shells when they lost two wickets with their score on 17, but Alistair Shields (65 from 85 balls) and Jacques Du Toit went on the counter attack to such effect they put on 164 before being parted, Du Toit the man out after blasting 13 fours and three sixes in his 72-ball 90. James Carding (35no) then looked likely to earn Newcastle a win bonus as he lofted four sixes, but a torrential downpour ended any further hopes of play with 34.5 overs on the clock.
The First Division Mini League finally came to an end with a mini programme, just one game out of five surviving, which proved a disappointment for Washington who were favourites to top the table before rain robbed them of the chance of playing.
Brandon didn’t need any second invitations, although they were very nearly thwarted by the brilliance of Australian James Crosthwaite who made an unbeaten 136 out of Felling’s 37 over total of 211-7. The one-man exhibition lasted just 112 balls, and included 12 fours and eight sixes.
The hosts had to go for the win, and they made it with two wickets and seven balls to spare as Felling put them under consistent pressure.