Whitburn have put their poor start to the season behind them with a second successive victory – and they are now up four places to eighth in the Premier Division table.
Five games without a victory have been followed by wins over Durham Academy and, on Saturday, Gateshead Fell with whom they have been happy to swap places.
But it took a superb batting display to end the gloom with a magnificent, unbeaten 180 from Dan Shurben setting the pattern for the village club’s highest top-flight total of 319 for the loss of just one wicket.
Shurben’s 175-ball innings, which was a club best in the Premier Division, included 25 fours and five sixes – no less than 130 in boundaries – and he seemed set for a double century when a declaration was considered sensible after 58 overs.
He had shared a 171-run opening stand with Neil Ayre, who made 62, and an unbroken partnership worth a further 148 runs with Michael Turns, who was unbeaten on 62 from 57 balls with 12 boundaries.
Fell, despite the prospect of another season in the doldrums, produced a feisty batting display, hitting out with gusto and they only failed to record what would have been one of the most talked-about wins by 36 runs.
Opener Tom Pinkney (62) set the tempo with his 49-ball stay at the crease which brought him 10 fours and a six, to be followed by 68 from 81 balls from Chris Russo. He also smashed 10 fours.
A third half century came the way of David Daley, with all but nine of his 53 runs coming in boundaries.
But, after threatening on 263-6, Fell ran out of batting power to be all out for 283 in the 59th over.
Leaders Chester-le-Street continued their powerful start to the season, adding Stockton to their list of victims, with their fifth win keeping them well ahead of their main challengers, South Northumberland.
The Cestrians had to be at their very best to get the better of a very positive opposition who chose to bat when they won the toss and then declared their innings with five overs remaining to give themselves the additional time to try to bowl Chester out.
As it happened, it was one of those five overs that was used to pass Stockton’s 263-8, with six wickets still to spare.
Dazzling opener Simon Birtwisle hit an unbeaten 150 from 156 balls, with 14 fours and four sixes, featuring in partnerships worth 67 for the first wicket with youngster George Harrison (20) and 136 with Quentin Hughes (62).
Birtwisle had earlier taken three wickets – so not too bad a day!
Hetton Lyons did their best to try to stop South North’s run of success, but they fell 30 runs short of the 239-6 which the champions scored.
Jimmy Miller’s 91-ball knock of 84 gave the visitors the pacy start needed for a declaration on 60 overs. Lal Kumar (4-69 from 17 overs) and Allan Worthy (113, with 11 fours and five sixes) were Hetton’s star performers.
Jarvis Clay added 29, with Cameron Grimwood (15) and Darrell Williams (12no) the only others to reach double figures in their 209 all out.
Durham Academy (176-7) shared a drawn finish with South Shields (259-7), with Brydon Carse (77 not out) maintaining his rich vein of form for the youngsters, John Boyle adding an unbeaten 39 and Jack Burnham making 23.
Ollie Stedman (74), Tim David (60) and captain Chris Rainbow (62) impressed with the bat for Shields.