LUCK, as well as ability, plays a part in deciding championships and as Burnmoor regained their place as Readers Durham Cricket League leaders for the second time this season, they had to be grateful that the weather played a major role.
With their close rivals Tudhoe and Esh Winning having their game washed out by heavy overnight rain, the Moor were fortunate to be in one of the few places place where the rain appeared to be the least severe, and despite having a fairly stretching target to chase, they did so with the necessary haste to defeat their hosts Shildon and the gathering storm clouds.
The Railwaymen looked to be travelling first-class as they steamed along to a total of 182-7 before declaring after 44 overs.
The evergreen Gary Brown (6-31) had tried almost single-handedly to rein the home team in, but their skipper, Greg Upton, was in wonderful form, cracking eight fours and three sixes in his 80.
With John Paul Nash providing solid support with a half-century, the home team felt confident enough to dangle a carrot in front of the Moor.
Jimmy Daley does not need too many invitations to crack on, and he got the Moor off to a flier with four fours and two sixes in a rapid 50.
Martin Thursfield (38) maintained the momentum and then Dave Lowther (37no) and Brandon Scullard (39no) finished with a flourish to secure an eight-wicket win inside 25 overs.
The 20 points Burnmoor gained took them back to the top of the table, and, with just three games left, they had a five-point lead heading into today’s second match of the Bank Holiday weekend.
Tudhoe’s waterlogged frustration means their outside chances of glory are virtually gone, and so too Castle Eden, who were totally washed out at Kimblesworth.
The only other game to reach a win/lose conclusion was at Crook, victory moving Town to within four points of a coveted top 14 placing.
The win was routine enough, bottom club Langley Park bowled out for 126 and then Crook romping to victory in just 13.3 overs without losing a wicket,.
But the Park innings featured a rare occurrence as, at one stage, son and father, Michael and David Gladstone, were at the crease together at the same time as a father and son duo, Adam and Liam Burgess, were bowling together.
Young Michael was actually the shining light in the Park innings, hitting an unbeaten 58 from 78 balls, but Aussie David Embleton was in scintillating form, bagging 7-28 as Langley were closed down in 28.5 overs, and then Andrew Pratt (74 not out from 40 balls with 58 in boundaries) and Chris Hurst (44 not out from 42 balls) took over.
Durham City edged a little closer to the top 14, picking up a couple of bonus points while their other rivals were unable to boost their own tallies.
City owed a great debt of gratitude to Aussie Jake McCann, who smashed 19 fours to reach an unbeaten 105 out of a total of 155-3 in the game at Ryhope.
One man desperately unlucky not to join McCann in the three-figure club was Philadelphia’s Lee Innes.
He hit nine fours and four sixes in a bruising knock against Peterlee, but he was caught out just one short of a century as Phili reached 200-3 in 35 overs, with Gary Hewitt unbeaten on 57 when the rains arrived.
Murton looked to be in the ascendancy in their home game against Seaham Park after John Sample’s 12-over spell produced figures of 4-26. Jimmy Taylor had kept Park afloat with an unbeaten 52 scored from 63 balls, the game ending after 42 overs with the visitors on 119-6.
Bill Quay were on the verge of bouncing Boldon CA out for a low score when rain meant there was no play after the interval.
CA had gone to tea with the indigestion of being 91-9 after Sam Wraith (3-27) and Stuart Gray (3-22) had got on top, although skipper Tommy Nixon was fighting back with an unbeaten 30.
In the best of the rain-soaked rest, Horden’s Scott Birks bagged a seven-wicket haul as Ushaw Moor limped to 116-9 in 38 overs, and Adeel Malik cracked 61 from 39 balls, sharing a 110 run partnership with Josh Peel (55) as Mainsforth made it to 194-4 in their match against Silksworth.