Dukes ECB NEPL First Division
Seaham Harbour’s victory over high-flying Burnmoor last week was one of several shocks as the four leading clubs all crashed to defeat to blow the Dukes ECB NEPL First Division title race wide open.
But despite the fact that this was just the third win of the season for his club, Harbour’s cricket chairman Stuart Lacey wasn’t that surprised that the form book was turned upside down.
“It’s already been noted that this division is exceptionally tight and most teams are well capable of beating each other, and on our day we feel we are very competitive,” he said.
In fact, Harbour should have won a lot more comfortably than the scores suggest.
“We bowled really well against a Burnmoor side that is noted for its strong batting line-up,” he recalled.
“If we’d held our catches, we could have dismissed them for far less. I think we dropped around nine!
“As it was, we had them 125-9 before their last pair rallied them with a last wicket stand of 70.”
In the event that didn’t matter too much as skipper Ian Pattison scored a brilliant century, making an unbeaten 111 from 109 balls as Harbour coasted to victory in just 37.4 overs.
The other key man in the win was Nilkanth Parab, who picked up five wickets despite bowling not being his main strength.
“Back home in his first-class side, he is actually a batsman/wicketkeeper,” said Stuart.
“To have him taking wickets with his off-spin is an added bonus.
“When he has kept wicket in cup matches he has been outstanding, but for league games, we have Jeff Laws behind the stumps and so we use Nilkanth as an extra bowling option.”
Can Harbour use the victory as a springboard to further success? “That’s only our third win of the season,” pointed out Stuart, “But there’s been a couple of other games that we may well have won, so we’ll keep plugging away.”
A trip to Boldon awaits on Saturday, and with Jack Lacey unavailable Stephen Sennett is called up to replace him.
The home team will definitely have Mosharraf Hossain back.
The Bangladeshi international didn’t get back in time to play last week, but has now returned, and he will be joined by Phil Shakespeare and Ian Male in the starting line-up. With Stu Poynter still on Ireland duty, 15–year-old Oliver Sampson-Barnes will open the batting in place of suspended brother Nick.
While it might be extremely tight at the top, the place where the nerves are really on edge is at the foot of the table.
And with dungeon dwellers South Hetton and Sacriston set to meet at Front Street, the old cliche relating to ‘six-pointers’ was never more appropriate.
Hetton, currently propping up the rest, go into the match on 113 points, whilst Sacriston are just 15 above them having sunk slowly down the table following a run of nine games without a win.
The one positive factor is that both put up much improved displays last weekend as they gained the greater share of the spoils in drawn matches, and both were in run scoring mood.
But Sacriston’s top run scorer, Ian Hunter, misses this one, as does skipper Ian Jones, so Andrew Dixon and Mark Fort earn promotion, while youngster Reece Carr will captain in Jones’ absence.
Meanwhile, Hetton have Nathan Adamson and Daniel Stewart returning.
Up at the summit, the enthralling title race continues with the pick of the day being Eppleton, who lead the table, against in-form Felling who have surged into contention following an eight game unbeaten run.
Meanwhile, second-placed Burnmoor have skipper Alec Linsley back for the home game against a dangerous Tudhoe team, who also include their returning captain, Ross Hodgson.