FOR the second time in a fortnight club cricket took a pounding from the weather, where an occasional start was seen but no additional points gained in the Durham Cricket League First Division.
The short break in the weather on Saturday morning meant many teams travelled in the hope of play only then to be thwarted by the heavy downpours of early afternoon, but at least the 11.30 am starts in the Dukes NEPL enabled all Premier matches, other than Stockton’s home game against Newcastle, to see some action, although once again there was not enough for any side to earn any meaningful returns.
Gateshead Fell were particularly disappointed as they had hoped to make some ground up in their battle to avoid relegation as they were facing a severely depleted Durham Academy side. In the event they were struggling on 118-5 after 37 overs when the game ended.
In the damp conditions, and with resources stretched, the Academy had little hesitation in inserting their hosts when winning the toss, and with Reece Carr (3-21 from 8 overs) and Callum Buckley (2- 28 from 11 overs) on form Fell slid to 64-4 at one stage with only Aussie Adam Whatley (31) looking comfortable.
Hetton Lyons were the only team to earn a batting point, their opening pair of Gary Scott and Allan Worthy putting on an impressive stand of 141 against Sunderland before, ironically, they both lost their wickets moments before a downpour halted proceedings once and for all. Scott hit nine fours and three sixes in making 71, while Worthy continued to prosper as the new pride of the Lyons with 11 fours and one six in his 69, the home team making it to 145-2 after 30 overs.
And 30 overs batting was exactly what leaders South Northumberland got as they eased to 108-2 against Blaydon.
Joe Reynolds claimed the two wickets and the only bonus point of the match, but Karl Turner looked in prime nick again after hitting eight fours and a six on his way to an unbeaten 65 from 100 balls.
Tynemouth were the team to make the most progress in the league table, picking up eight points from their trip to the Lane where they had hosts Chester-le-Street in trouble on 99-6 after 29 overs. And it could have been much worse for the Cestrians as their final tally represented something of a recovery after they had crumbled to 61-6 at one stage. David Hymers’ 13 over spell was particularly effective – he picked up 3-28 – while Andrew Smith claimed two wickets before Quentin Hughes (27no) and Callum Thorp (27no) mounted the fightback. Benwell Hill were yet another side to win the toss and field, and they benefitted to the tune of two additional bonus points as they whipped out five Whitburn batsmen before the inevitable premature end.
Matty Muchall enjoyed the favourable conditions, picking up three for 37 in his 11 overs, including the key wicket of Stuart Walker who looked almost as threatening as the weather in making 65 from 72 balls, 50 of those runs coming in boundaries and including three maximums. Walker eventually fell with the total on 104-2, and then Hill enjoyed a purple patch as they claimed two more victims for the addition of just a single run to leave the home team on 118-5 at lunch. That meal had plenty of time to settle as the players then watched the rain beat down for three solid hours before the white flag was finally raised just in time for tea.
Ruel Brathwaite made a surprise appearance for Brandon in the big First Division game at Washington, and he made an impact in the brief passage of play by removing the home team’s new star signing Dan Shurben. Washington reached 42-2 before the ground was swamped, and for Brandon the additional point against one of their closest rivals could prove crucial as the season unfolds. South Shields began the day in pole position, and they enhanced their lead over the chasing pack by a couple of points despite only 13 overs of play being possible at Felling.
The home team were in immediate trouble as they lost their first two wickets with just a single on the board, and with two more falling shortly afterwards they were quite pleased to see the rain return with their total standing on 43-4, the aptly named Rob Lake (2- 15 in 6.4 overs) looking likely to sink them.
Sacriston stayed second, but didn’t collect any bonuses from their home game against Willington after being asked to bat and then making it to 64-1 in 13.3 overs. Mo Ali hit seven fours from the 41 balls he faced in reaching 32 not out, while Martin Hubber (19no) was also settling to the task. Just eight overs were possible at Eppleton where Seaham Harbour stood on 26-0, but that was six more than at South Hetton where the home team made six runs without loss in the brief cameo against Boldon.
On Bank Holiday Monday, the leaders in the Durham Cricket League got bogged down in a laborious draw, Burnmoor (158-8 in 47.5 overs ) being thwarted by Philadelphia (126- 6 in 47 overs), but Phili looked set to win at one stage as their opening pair put on 87, only for the rest of their batsmen to be pinned down to such an extent they only managed 39 runs in the last 25 overs.
Dawdon leapfrogged Horden into second spot, just two points adrift of the Moor, when they defeated Evenwood by three wickets, John Leslie once again their match winner with 12 fours and five sixes in 84.
Horden ended up with just eight points at Tudhoe to drop to third after Danny Thexton smashed seven fours and five sixes in a wonderful unbeaten 103 for the home team. Set a target of 234-4 Horden closed on 169-8 from 38 overs to slip further off the pace.