A CHANGE of league leadership, the second century of the season, and a hat-trick on the bowler’s birthday produced the weekend’s key talking points despite a truncated programme.

With the early pacesetters Barnard Castle one of the victims of the weather, Richmondshire moved from third to top place after giving a real battering to Thornaby, who were bowled out for a paltry 58.

Vice skipper, James Clarkson (3-27) and newly-arrived Brad Elsworth (2-18) led the collapse before Shani Dissanayake (4-10) took over the final demolition in a five-over spell. Even top scorer Jon Spillane couldn’t stop the mauling as their overseas professional, Sri Lankan Indika de Saram, suffered from jet lag on his debut, faced three balls and was out without scoring.

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Richmond had their batting worries with eight wickets gone for 110, but a 50-run partnership between Mike Fleming (37 not out) and Alistair Raper (28) changed the game.

They finished on 160-9 with Omar Shahid (4-35) the main wicket taker.

The maximum points the Dalesmen took lifted them six clear of Darlington at the top with Barney, whose game at Marton was among three called off, dropping three further points behind.

The most dramatic individual performances came at Hartlepool where Great Ayton’s Steve Pennock, unbeaten on 111, and Mike Croft, who grabbed a hat-trick on his birthday, celebrated.

Ayton hit 221-4 from the 50 overs with Pennock at the crease for just 94 balls for his century and despatching 16 boundaries, including eight sixes. He shared a 112 partnership with Matt Wilkinson which lasted a swashbuckling 56 minutes. Wilkinson made just 23 and was largely a spectator.

Pool went for the runs with Jack Wilkinson (42) and Kasun Bodhisha (25) looking good, but when they reached 148-3 the mercurial Croft produced his hat-trick.

They came in the last of his 15 overs - and the last of the match and also on his 24th birthday. Ayton also gained 16 points for the draw which lifted them up to fifth place in the league ratings, two points behind Pool who had started the day in the top two.

It’s no fun just now for Stokesley who find themselves out on their own at the foot of the table following their fourth defeat in five games. They faced another batting collapse as Darlington bowled them out for 122 to win by 51 runs.

Quakers lost a wicket with the first ball of the day and a second with the score on eight, but Liam Coates (68) came to the rescue before Colin Biglin hit 25 from 20 deliveries (three fours and a six) to reach 173-6 in the reduced 44 overs.

Stokesley’s Andrew Weighell played a captain’s role with an attacking 26, including five boundaries, but only James Beaumont (31) looked comfortable against Darlington’s formidable attack of Jon Barnes (3-34) Peter Armstrong (3-36), Martin Lower (2-17) and Doug Mulholland (2-30).

Middlesbrough, who scored 175-4 from a reduced 33 overs, took the majority of the points in a draw with Sedgefield.

James Lowe (84) and Paul Johnston (56) shared in a 104 run opening stand but Steve Naylor ( 41) led a fightback to reach 107-7 as Shahid Mahmood (3-15) and Lowe (3- 27) kept the promoted visitors in check.

In Division One, where only one game was possible, Redcar beat Whitby to move alongside Bishop Auckland as joint league leaders.