THE fight for the final Durham Senior League title is set to go down to the very last Saturday after Burnmoor thought they had done enough to be crowned champions only to be told a late recalculation of points meant they still needed another one from their final game.
The league executive’s checking of match returns just before the penultimate round of fixtures had discovered that Castle Eden’s points total had been understated by three, but unfortunately no one told Burnmoor and they were blissfully unaware of this fact when declaring at Marsden on 195-7, thinking they had done enough to clinch the title if they went on to win.
This they duly did only for their celebrations to be cut short when the news came through to them. Nevertheless, with only a single point needed from their final game at home to Boldon it is surely only a matter of keeping the champagne on ice for another few days.
David Lowther’s 62 was key to the Moor’s score, and then a depleted Marsden were shot out for 95 with the youthful line-up unable to cope with the skills and experience of Ian Conn (4-26) and Brandon Scullard (3-24).
Castle Eden took the fight into the last weekend, toppling Felling by eight wickets after bowling them out for just 83 in 25.5 overs, Jude Dinushan (4-35) and Swaru Purkayastha (4-21) sharing eight victims and Keith Bailey picking up the other two.
Paul Leonard struck two early retaliatory blows when Castle’s run chase began, but then Dean Langridge (4 fours and 2 sixes in 33no) and Purkayastha (6 fours in 34no) took the home team to victory in only 14 overs with an unbroken stand of 59.
At the opposite end of the table, Philadelphia gave themselves an outside chance of avoiding the wooden spoon when they earned 13 points in a high scoring draw with in-form Horden who nevertheless moved up into third place after picking up 14 themselves.
Phil had plenty of contributors in a 54 over innings of 243-9. Shaun Hauxwell led the way with 4 fours and 4 sixes in a bright 52, and Ian Hauxwell almost emulated his protégé with 7 boundaries in 47. With just 41 overs to chase, Horden gave it a real go as Masood Mirza continued his magnificent form with a century laced with 19 fours and a six, but when he was out Horden had to settle for a share of the spoils on 211-8.
The other three games also ended in stalemate although only five runs separated the protagonists in the local derby at Boldon where Whitburn closed on 188-8 after being set 194 to win. Michael Walker (66) boosted Boldon despite five cheap wickets from Stuart Walker, but Neil Ayre (72) looked to be inspiring a successful run chase until he was run out leaving Whitburn to ponder what might have been.
Eppleton had two centurions at Norton. Kyle Davis (101) and Liam Mallaburn (102) gave the visitors the perfect platform with a double century opening stand, but faced with a daunting target of 282-3 the Teessiders understandably settled for a draw as they closed out on 142-8.