SUNDERLAND’S early season halo slipped badly as they crashed to a 149-run defeat at the hands of Benwell Hill, but it wasn’t a team performance that took the headlines on Saturday as Hetton Lyons star Ryan Pringle turned in one of the great individual displays in the history of the NEPL.
Pringle (pictured, right) almost single-handedly overpowered a shell-shocked Gateshead Fell.
The Durham man’s day started when he strode to the crease with his team’s score already on 37, and he left after facing just 100 balls with his side then on 240-4.
In between, he smashed 16 fours and four sixes en route to 124, his maiden league century.
Lyons declared when Pringle’s fireworks ended, but he wasn’t given any rest as he was then asked to open the bowling, and after a sedate enough start, during which the Fell advanced to 48-1, he simply ran through their line-up.
The last nine wickets managed just 45 runs as Pringle returned a career-best 9-31, the second best marker in NEPL history, just behind Franklyn Rose’s 9-22 back in 2002.
Pringle’s heroics tended to overshadow everything else in the match, something that was a little unfair on Jarvis Clay who helped in the batting assault as he opened out with a half-century scored from just 40 balls faced, the impetus provided enabling Hetton to make light of a rain reduced match in which they declared after 41.5 overs, and then chopped Fell down in 27.4 overs to win by 147 runs.
That was a remarkably similar margin of defeat to that which Sunderland suffered at the hands of Benwell Hill in a game reduced to a maximum 90 overs.
Hill set their stall out to rack up quick runs, and they succeeded, declaring after 46 overs on 251-4.
With 44 overs in which to win the match, or bat out time, the Wearsiders survived just 35.2 of those, crumbling to 102 all out.
Skipper Dan Shurben did his best to rally the troops, carrying his bat through the innings to end unbeaten on 67, but with the next top score just 12, and the tail unable to cope with Zohaib Khan (5-14), it was to prove in vain.
Just six overs playing time was lost at Jesmond where Newcastle and South Shields served up a feast of runs in one of the best drawn games seen for some time.
Shields must have felt they were safe from suffering a third consecutive defeat after posting 310-8 in the first innings, a superb 92 from 58 balls by Chris Dorothy the icing on a run laden cake. But, undaunted, Newcastle hit back in style, Ben Raine (75) providing the foundation for Michael Richardson to threaten the target.
However, after making 99 from 91 balls Richardson was run out by Mattie Muchall going for his ton and Shields were able to man the barricades well enough to hold the home team to a score of 304-6 and earn a share of the spoils.
Elsewhere, a century from Simon Birtwisle and another five wickets for David Foster were not enough for Chester-le-Street to force a victory over Durham Academy at the Emirates.
Tynemouth were unable to repeat their last-day victory of the 2012 season and slid to the bottom of the table after a seven-wicket defeat at Blaydon, and Stockton went top after beating South Northumberland in a game where 16 wickets fell for 153 runs.