Castle Eden tighten up title race

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YESTERDAY’S much-anticipated showdown between Burnmoor and Esh Winning fell victim to the downpours sweeping the region, as did the vast majority of games scheduled for the second half of the weekend double header in the Readers Durham Cricket League.

Only four matches started yesterday, the most play coming at Evenwood where the halfway stage was reached with visitors Whiteleas standing on 224-9 after a half-century from Sunzow Brahma.

Elsewhere, 17 overs were squeezed in at Durham City, who reached 68-3 against Dawdon, while Kimblesworth managed 77-5 against Crook.

Yesterday’s matches started had little effect on league placings, with very few bonus points involved, so it was almost as you were from the previous evening after the full Saturday programme was completed.

In those opening games, leaders Esh Winning crashed to their first defeat of the season, their loss coming at the hands of Castle Eden, one of their closest rivals, in a thrilling match that went down to the very last ball.

Esh scored quickly enough with a glorious innings from Stuart Hall giving the home side impetus, but ,when he fell for 102 after hitting 17 boundaries, Chris Freeman grabbed five crucial wickets to bring Castle Eden back into the game.

Esh declared when their ninth wicket fell with the score on 187 after 41.1 overs, but their determination to squeeze out a result backfired when visiting skipper John Spellman (70no) marshalled his troops superbly. With 13 runs required from the last over, an ecstatic away side managed to do it from the last delivery to win by five wickets.

Half-centuries from Paul Davidson and Martin Thursfield enabled the other team in the leading trio, Burnmoor, to raise their score to 184-5 after an indifferent start against Whiteleas.

Their declaration after 47 overs provided them with the same number to bowl the South Tynesiders out, but the home side refused to be budged and ended on a comfortable 122-7 despite another three wickets from Brandon Scullard.

That combination of results left the top of the table in a much more congested position, with Esh still leading the way, but Burnmoor just seven points behind and Castle Eden a further 13 adrift.

The two other unbeaten records remained intact as Philadelphia turned in a top-notch batting display to topple hosts Kimblesworth, and Easington proved too strong for Murton.

It was a tale of two centuries at Kimblesworth, where the home team’s Paul Craig hit 111 out of a more than useful home total of 261-4, and then Lee Innes struck a glorious 142 to rush Phili to a six-wicket success that they can rightly claim to be their best of the summer.

That man Kamran Mansoor was once again the inspiration for Easington. He smashed six fours and six sixes on his rapid way to 85 out of a 45-over total of 178-8, and then he bagged three cheap wickets to spearhead an attack in which Ryan Higgins (3-18) also excelled as Murton were bowled out for 121 inside 33 overs.

The quickest century of the day came at Mainsforth, and it was the home side who suffered as Horden’s Stephen McCoy launched six sixes and 11 other boundaries in a blistering, unbeaten 100 that came up in just 56 balls.

As soon as McCoy reached the three figures, the declaration came on 242-5 after only 32.2 overs, and the hosts soon gave up the ghost for 114 as Adam Dixon picked up four wickets.

McCoy just edged out Billy Teesdale for the fastest ton of the day, the Evenwood skipper cracking 16 fours and eight sixes in a rousing 139 not out that rushed his team to an impressive eight-wicket win at Ryhope after the home side had set a challenging 231-7.

The hosts had taken 50 overs to reach their total, while Evenwood took just 30.5 to win.

Marsden returned to form as they blasted a weakened Langley Park by seven wickets after bowling them out for 126. Zakhele Ncube led the attack well with four wickets, and then Connor Elliott (47no) and Ryan Dowens (42no) calmed nerves after the loss of three early wickets. Victory lifted the visitors up to fourth in the table.

There was a first win of the season for Hylton, and it came at the expense of bottom club Silksworth, who continue to search for their own first ray of light.

Hylton skipper Alan Mustard hit 11 fours and three sixes as he batted through 34.3 overs for an unbeaten 86 before selflessly declaring with his team on 206-4. Silksworth got a decent start via Paul Howe (46) and Craig Nield (45), and even when they were parted there didn’t look any great danger of a loss until Andrew Kibble, bowling for the first time, wrapped the innings up by taking 4-12 from 21 balls.

Along with Silksworth, Seaham Park are the other team still searching for that elusive first victory after Boldon CA defeated them by four wickets. Ian Male (5-19) and Tommy Nixon (4-22) blew Park away for 102, and, despite a few tremors, CA eased to their win to move into a crucial top 14 placing.