BURNMOOR did not win at Tudhoe on Saturday, but they took a massive stride towards the Readers Durham Cricket League title when they batted their rivals out of the contest to earn the lion’s share of the spoils.
It was a breathtaking innings from Paul Craig that put the Moor firmly in the driving seat in their attempt to secure a second consecutive Durham Cricket League title.
With the heat well and truly on in the showdown between the two leading sides, Craig produced a batting masterclass to strangle the life out of Tudhoe, and even though the game eventually ended as a draw, Burnmoor claimed seven more points than their hosts and they now take a 13-point lead into their final game of the season.
Craig smashed 18 fours and seven sixes, carrying his bat through the 45-over Burnmoor innings to end with 174 not out when the declaration came on a mammoth 289-2.
He shared an opening stand of 86 with Stephen Meek (31), a second-wicket partnership of 109 with Dave Lowther (37), and finally an unbroken pairing of 94 with Brydon Carse (32 not out).
Craig’s dramatic innings, in which he faced just 127 balls, created a new personal high in the two-year-old league, ironically enough deposing the Tudhoe pairing of Simon Davies (157 not out) and Shaun Findlay (153) at the top of the record-making ladder.
With victory an unlikely scenario for the home team they settled down to ensuring that the title race would go to the last Saturday, Ian Grainger (35 from 34 balls) sharing an opening stand of 47 with Ross Hodgson who went on to make a top scoring 73 from 120 balls.
Dan Hardaker then included three sixes in his 36, but Tudhoe never threatened and ended on 179-5 from 50 overs. Their one hope is that their final home game against rock-bottom Evenwood will produce a maximum return while the Moor are at least held by Horden.
At the opposite end of the table, Hylton emerged victorious from the relegation battle against Marsden, and they are now 16 points above the drop zone, with Crook Town joining the other two teams below them after their game was washed out.
Marsden just could not get going when they batted first at Hylton, Gav Barnes causing most of their problems in a 12-over spell in which he took 3-27, and skipper Alan Mustard giving him great support with 2-11.
The visitors laboured through 42 overs before their final wicket fell with just 92 on the board, and even that score owing much to a unbeaten 20 not out from their number 11.
The run chase was relatively trouble-free, Mustard again providing comfort as he stroked five boundaries in a top-scoring 30 to ease Hylton to a six-wicket win inside 26 overs.
The weather played a big part in the day’s other top-flight games with the matches at Philadelphia and Evenwood suffering the same fate as the game at Crook, with not a ball bowled.
And bad light curtailed the match at Mainsforth where the home team had reached 123-6 in 35 overs after bowling Castle Eden out for 145 inside 50. Castle skipper Keith Bailey hit 63 from 71 balls to make light of other’s difficulties with the bat, and Richard Ede had claimed three wickets before night drew in.
They went the whole way in the final game, Shashank Singh (49) and Lee Jackson (58) lifting Boldon CA to 204-7 in 50 overs despite David Coates brilliant spell of 5-38. Ben Popovski (5-37 in 12 overs) then had Dawdon struggling on 138-9 when the overs ran out.