FOUR champions made an impressive start to life in the new Durham Cricket League.

Brought together primarily by the amalgamation of the former Senior, County and Coast leagues, which were all disbanded, Burnmoor, Esh Winning and Murton were joined by minnows Whiteleas, champions of the North East Durham League, in the new 26- club competition.

They all registered impressive victories, with Burnmoor, favourites to be the first titleholders, defeating Durham City by nine wickets, Esh looking impressive in a four-wicket victory over Crook, Murton crushing Peterlee and Whiteleas shining with both bat and ball to outplay Silksworth.

The ambitious club signed four former South Shields players to boost their chances and three of them wasted no time in showing their skills.

Craig Jones hit an unbeaten 75 and Kris McShane made 40 as Whiteleas totalled an impressive 207-9, before Ryan Hale grabbed five wickets to help dismiss Silksworth for just 72. The third former Shieldsman, Rob Scorer, took three of the other wickets to fall.

Jimmy Daley was Burnmoor’s match winner with an unbeaten 77, but Tudhoe’s Dan Hardaker and Shawn Findlay, who both made centuries against Bill Quay, set a couple of first-day league records when they shared an unbroken 249-run partnership.

They achieved it as they came together at the fall of the second wicket, Hardaker with 151, including 19 fours and seven sixes, and Findlay with 118, with 13 fours and eight sixes. They made all but 31 runs in boundaries.

The day’s other first-footer was Stephen Gale. His unbeaten 139 for Dawdon against Evenwood included 18 boundaries, 11 of them sixes, but he and his colleagues had to be satisfied with draw points.