Burnmoor on title brink in decider

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BURNMOOR are on the brink of a phenomenal eighth championship success in 16 years.

If they manage to seal their second consecutive Durham Cricket League title on Saturday, it will actually make it four in a row from the high-fliers.

The Moor picked up the last two crowns before the Durham Senior League folded at the end of 2012, and then they won the first ever DCL title to create their own little niche in the history books of the fledgling set-up.

One year on, they need just 18 points from their final game of the 2014 campaign at home to Horden to claim that fourth consecutive honour.

And then it’s onwards and upwards to the North East Premier League Division One when they would have the opportunity of creating a quite unique record of winning the championships of three separate competitions in just a five-year span.

The latest opportunity has arisen following two splendid performances in their last two games where their class has come to the fore after a relatively modest summer by their own demanding standards.

First, they thrashed third-placed Esh Winning to put them completely out of the promotion picture, then they traverlled to Tudhoe for a winner-takes-all contest, and, while that ended in stalemate, the Moor dominated for the most part to establish a 13-point lead as table-toppers with one match to play.

Burnmoor skipper Alec Linsley reckons all this happened despite things not always going his way, however he feels he witnessed one of the best batting displays of his career at Tudhoe.

He said: “Yet again I lost the toss – I think I’ve won it three times this season! Tudhoe decided to put us in and, having a six-point advantage going into the game, our main objective was to keep ourselves in the lead going into the last game against Horden.

“As it turned out, what happened in our innings gave us a real chance of winning the title there and then.

“I’ve played with and against some fantastic players, but I think Paul Craig’s knock was the best I have seen.

“Granted, Tudhoe’s ground is small, but the sixes he was hitting were sixes on any ground.”

Craig’s knock was an incredible 174 not out off 127 balls, and included 18 fours and seven sixes, and surpassed the DCL league record previously held by Tudhoe’s Simon Davies, who had registered 157 not out.

After scoring a mammoth 289-2, the Moor could not close the game out as their hosts finished on 179-5, but Linsley was happy enough with the day.

He added: ‘We did extend our lead at the top to 13 points and that means we go into our final game against Horden knowing that a win of any sort will be enough to take the title. It also means that the toss is taken out of the equation – probably a good thing!”

South African Brydon Carse did not bowl in the match to further nurse his Achilles problem, but he is expected to play a full part on Saturday.

Captain Linsley said: “The pro will be back bowling this week and we are confident we can clinch the title at home. Hopefully the weather stays fine.”

With Carse fit, Burnmoor are unchanged as they go in search of another notch on their heavily scarred championship bedpost.

It is likely that the Moor will need to win as Tudhoe would appear to have the relatively straightforward task of succeeding in their final match, a home game against relegated Evenwood, who are a staggering 89 points adrift at the bottom after a horrible season.

Thirty points looks almost a formality in that one for the title chasers.

At the opposite end of the table, Hylton enjoy a 16-point advantage over second-bottom Marsden, while Crook are also in the mix as they are sandwiched between the pair.

Hylton, buoyed by the fine performance against Marsden that set up their escape route, and made it two wins on the trot, expect to be at full strength for their game at Easington, while Marsden round off their fixtures at home to a Dawdon team who still have an outside chance of finishing in the top four.

Crook finish off by hosting Mainsforth, a side who are capable of giving anyone a game on their day.

Elsewhere, Philadelphia finish off at Esh Winning and Boldon CA are at Castle Eden.