THE new Readers Durham Cricket League season is up and limping!
The weather tried its very best to upset the opening day applecart, with three of the seven Division One matches washed out, and 60 per cent of the Division Two programme biting the dust – or should that be mud?
But amongst the gloom there was delight for Dawdon as an imposing home victory over Castle Eden gained them 23 points, and with it a share of the fledgling leadership of the top flight table with championship favourites Burnmoor.
Dawdon’s route to their opening day riches came via a convincing all-round display against a team who have been regular front runners themselves in recent seasons.
John Leslie looks to be a great acquisition for the club, and the proven performer notched up a half century on debut to join with Stephen Gale (58 including 11 boundaries) in lifting the hosts to an all out total of 162 in 35 overs after Alan Unsworth and Ryan Ball shared six wickets for Castle Eden.
And Leslie confirmed his all-round qualities as he bagged three wickets in the Castle reply, although the main accolades went to Mark Ewart who claimed six wickets for 27 runs in a telling 12 over stint which included six maidens.
Dawdon’s day of delight was fittingly concluded by Leslie, who bowled Ball to wrap up an impressive 67-run victory.
Burnmoor’s recipe for success was very similar to Dawdon’s – a semi respectable batting effort followed by dominance with the ball.
The Moor will have to bear the mantle of favourites all summer, and they certainly struggled a little with the bat as they eased their way through almost 49 overs to post a relatively modest 146-8.
The star of the show was Neil Young, who has just returned to the club from Eppleton – he cracked 63 invaluable runs from just 62 balls faced, and struck three sixes in an innings that made light of other batsmen’s struggles.
Mainsforth’s new boy, Martin Lower, was the pick of a frugal home attack, claiming 3-18 from his 12 overs.
Brydon Carse was the other Burnmoor batsman to show potential, scoring 25 runs, and then the 18-year-old South African from Port Elizabeth demonstrated his all-round skills as he joined with Karl Bellerby in dismantling the Mainsforth reply.
The pair claimed eight wickets between them, with only home ‘pro’ Mohammed Nawaz (30) able to resist for any length of time, and the run chase ended 76 runs short when the final wicket fell with the total on 83 in the 31st over.
The game at Bunker Hill, where a powerful Tudhoe team were being entertained by Philadelphia, will probably go down as David Baxter’s match after a brilliant knock in difficult circumstances just gave Phili the edge over their opponents.
Peter Greenwell (4-24) and Mirza Baig (3-25) tied Tudhoe down to 95 in three balls short of 40 overs, but the nerves set in when Phili’s first four batsmen mustered just 17 runs between them.
With South African seamer Kushen Kishun impressing on debut, it took Baxter’s intervention to tilt the game in the home team’s favour.
Baxter raced to a half century in 38 balls, going on to crack 10 fours and two sixes in an unbeaten 63 that proved the clear difference between the teams.
With no one else in double figures, and the other eight batsmen contributing just 26 in total, Baxter’s effort proved invaluable in the three wicket win. Kishun ended with 4-28 in a losing cause.
In the final top flight game to get a start, Easington overcame hosts Marsden by five wickets after an impressive performance from Sameer Haque.
The medium pace swing bowler arrived from Benwell & Walbottle in the close-season, and he proved an instant hit by joining with another new boy, Gary Ward (2-16), in taking out the Marsden top order.
Haque finished with 4-24 as the home team scrambled up to 125.
The Marsden bowlers fought back to claim five wickets, but contributions throughout the order, led by David Tarn’s 34 and Jason Moses’ 31, ensured the visitors’ season began positively.
Only two games defied the elements in Division Two, and both of those ended in stalemate.
The highlight of Durham’s match at Murton was the City opening partnership between Will Allum, who hit nine fours and a six in a 111-ball 80, and skipper Jake McCann, who’s 60 came from 91 balls and included seven boundaries.
With 208-7 to chase Murton were never in the hunt and closed out on 111-8 as Danni Hazell pegged them back with 3-25.
Langley Park’s batsmen enjoyed their afternoon, raising the day’s highest score of 261-8, Keith Smith top scoring with 53.
But Peterlee clung on tenaciously to claim a share of the spoils on 131-8, this due mainly to 20-year-old Australian Chris Moran who was making his debut for the club.
After earlier claiming two wickets he went on to record a match saving half century and earn his new team-mates a share of the spoils.