Rain ruins another Saturday

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IF someone wanted to design a programme to cause the maximum damage to a day of cricket in the shortest possible time, then Saturday provided the perfect blueprint.

Despite forecasters predicting the impending storms for several days in advance, ever optimistic club cricketers awoke to a perfect sunrise, and the hope grew that the weather men may just have got things wrong.

By 11am, the first rains were nudging their way into the south of the region and, growing in intensity, they relentlessly eased northwards.

By around 6pm, having done their worst, the storm clouds disappeared into the North Sea, leaving the most perfect sunlit evening, but no cricket with which to properly enjoy it.

The simple statistics were that out of 172 matches scheduled to be played from North Yorkshire to the Scottish border, not one single game reached a conclusion.

Indeed, only one managed to make it to a second innings, and 87 per cent of the games did not see a single ball bowled.

The irony was that in virtually every instance teams had travelled, adding to the frustration of everyone from groundstaff, to administrators, to officials, to players.

This was the third time in the last five weekends that the weather had played a significant hand, although the first where there was no result anywhere, leading to comparisons with the disastrous 2012 season which was the worst in the history of the game in the North East for the number of abandonments.

There was no play whatsoever in either the Durham Cricket League or the North East Premier League First Division, but the 11.30am starts in the Premier Division meant there was some limited action in a handful of games, although not at Stockton where the champions were the first to be hit by the gathering storms.

Leaders South North managed to squeeze two bowling bonus points out of their home clash with local rivals Newcastle, Jonny Wightman picking up two wickets as the visitors struggled to 63-4 in 19 overs.

This was the best points return of the day, with the Bulls increasing their lead over Hetton Lyons to 14 with only a meagre 2.1 overs possible at Lilywhite Terrace, where Benwell Hill were the visitors.

The only other teams to marginally enhance their points tally were Blaydon, who reduced Tynemouth to 25-3 in 13 overs, Joe Reynolds bagging 2-18, and Chester-le-Street, who had Sunderland on 22-2 from 6.4 overs, with Callum Thorp (2-15) in threatening form.

Whitburn had defeated Gateshead Fell by 32 runs in Friday night’s T20 clash between the two sides, a sensational innings of 75 by Stuart Walker, who hit eight fours and five sixes, and faced just 28 balls, lighting up that encounter.

And he looked about to repeat the dose on Saturday when the same two sides met again, cracking nine fours in an unbeaten 43 before the weather came to the rescue of the Fell attack with the home team on 67-0 after 12.3 overs.

And so that was another Saturday gone, but at least there was time for a smile or two when a result was rung in from a village team. The caller simply said “match abandoned, ground unfit – like most of our b***** players!”