Durham Cricket League: Kumar class leads Horden to cup final glory, while Littletown clinch promotion despite washout

Horden line up earlier this season. Back, from left: Lee Jackson, Carl Watson, Steve Wright, Scott Birks, Wayne Birks, Mark Wood. Front: Liam Irving, Connor Dickinson, Lal Kumar, Shaun Bradbury, Adam Dixon, Jamie Greenwood.
Horden line up earlier this season. Back, from left: Lee Jackson, Carl Watson, Steve Wright, Scott Birks, Wayne Birks, Mark Wood. Front: Liam Irving, Connor Dickinson, Lal Kumar, Shaun Bradbury, Adam Dixon, Jamie Greenwood.
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Horden lifted the Frank Lees Bowl yesterday, beating hosts Crook Town by 36 runs.

Batting first, Horden got off to the worst possible start, losing both of their openers without scoring.

First, Wayne Birks was bowled with the first ball of the innings and then, with the score on 12, Lee Jackson was bowled by Chris Embleton.

Despite those two early blows, Horden, thanks to Lal Kumar and Jamie Greenwood, got on top of the home attack. Kumar, in a scintillating performance, smashed seven boundaries and eight sixes on his way to a magnificent century before being dismissed for 106 and playing his part in a third wicket partnership of 144 with Greenwood, who was undefeated on 36 as Horden finished their 20 overs on 162-3.

Horden took two early wickets in the Crook repl, with Adam Dixon and Kumar taking the wickets of Andrew Pratt and John Holmes. From 18-2, it was always going to be an uphill task for the hosts to reach their huge target.

Scott Birks was a surprise inclusion in the Horden side following his long lay-off with injury and he claimed three wickets for 33 runs in his four over spell, while Adam Dixon, skipper Carl Watson and professional Kumar all took two wickets apiece as the home side were dismissed for 126 giving Horden a resounding 36-run win to claim their first trophy for many years.

The Colliers will now look to finish as runners-up in Division One by winning their final league match at Easington this Saturday, a vast improvement on last season’s fifth-bottom finish.

They have improved their points tally by 63 points already, with the one game to play.

The cup final defeat completed a weekend of misery for Crook, who were relegated from Division One when Saturday’s programme was washed out.

Crook were relegated along with Hylton when their “relegation decider” against Bill Quay failed to get going.

Seaham Park, who came up with new Division One champions Burnopfield last year, have had a consolidating season and have adapted reasonably to the higher standard of cricket.

They go into their last game at home to Philadelphia, whose skipper Shaun Smith said last week: “We have experienced our best season in several years, with our cup success and we want to finish as high as we can in the league.”

Littletown’s promotion from Division Two was guaranteed by Saturday’s washout.

Their game at Langley Park did not see a single ball bowled, with the same scenario throughout the league.

Littletown, who only joined the league last season having reformed following several years’ abeyance, can now celebrate in style when they finish off with a home game against Houghton this coming Saturday.

Gregg Arundel’s men have had a brilliant season, losing only once, and are deserved champions.

Who will go up with them, is the question on everyone’s lips at present.

Whiteleas and Peterlee, in second and third respectively, were due to meet at Low Lane at the weekend in what was probably going to decide which team went up, but the battle will now go to the last game of the season, in an exciting finish for three clubs.

Leas are in second position, favourites to join Littletown in the step-up, with a cushion of 14 points.

They travel to Ryhope, who themselves have been in contention for a while, so it will not be an easy game.

Peterlee, in third, are at home to Ushaw Moor, who themselves were in contention earlier in the season.

The home side must win and will be in an attacking frame of mind when the stumps are pitched.

Marsden, a point behind Peterlee, also have a chance. They must win at Boldon CA, perhaps the easier of the games on paper, but they have to rely on the two above them slipping up. If they do, then Marsden need to waiting there just in case.

Evenwood and Murton have improved this campaign. Evenwood have improved their win ratio by 50 per cent, while Murton have increased theirs by 275 per cent, a great effort.

Houghton, who finished bottom last year, can take heart from their improvement this season, doubling their wins and gaining three draws, having failed to secure a single victory in 2015.

Silksworth will finish bottom with a poor return of points, after finishing second bottom last season.

Yesterday’s Durham Cricket League Fifteens finals day was abandoned because of an unplayable ground at Philadelphia.