Dukes ECB NEPL First Division Mini League
SACRISTON became the first ‘mini-marvels’ as they pounded their way to a 151-run success at Eppleton on the opening day of the 2014 season.
In an effort to bridge the fixture gap until the real action begins on May 17, the NEPL have introduced a four-game competition entitled the First Division Mini League.
The fixtures have been drawn randomly, teams winning three points for a win and there are no draws.
With two teams expected to be promoted from the Durham Cricket League at the end of the season, it is anticipated that this will be a once only event.
If nothing else, the competiton provides valuable competitive match practice for First Division teams, and Eppleton will be glad they got this mauling out of their system whilst the stakes are not too high.
Sacriston only used five batters to reach 301-3 in their 45 overs, and none of them failed.
Setting the pace were openers Harry Hubber and Mohtashim Ali who shared in a stand of 155 before Ali fell for 57 made from 80 balls.
Hubber went on to notch up 83 from 67 balls with 11 fours and 3 sixes, and when Dan Anderson (48no) and Ian Hunter (47) maintained the momentum Eppleton were staring into the abyss.
And that abyss beckoned even more as the home team slumped to 50-5, losing three wickets with the score on 50.
A defiant unbeaten 61 from Dean Musther rescued respectability and enabled Eppleton to close out on 150-9, Martin Hubber and Mo Ali sharing six wickets for the victors.
Boldon squeezed out South Shields by 31 runs on the back of some fine batting from Nick Sampson-Barnes (75no) and Neil Mulvaney (50).
This lifted the home team to 227-9, but that total looked vulnerable when Andrew Elliott (42) and Gordon Muchall (67) were sharing a vibrant second wicket partnership.
It took the introduction of fourth change bowler Michael Walker to get Boldon back in the game – he snaffled both run scorers to open the door for Murtuza Hussain (3-23) and Sampson-Barnes (2-20) to sweep through, Shields eventually closing on 186-9.
The best game of the day came at Seaham Harbour where last year’s whipping boys gave a good account of themselves before going down by two wickets.
Debutant Jack McBeth headlined in the Harbour innings, hitting nine boundaries in his 64 scored from the number eight berth.
This gave Seaham the chance to post a challenging 206 from 43.5 overs, although they received a helping hand from the visitors attack which conceded a staggering 59 in extras.
Ryan Dowse anchored the run chase for Hetton, making 59 from the opener’s slot, but Peter Hambleton’s four wickets brought his team into the game before Tony Murphy
steadied a listing ship with an unbeaten 23 that took his team to their narrow victory with just five balls of the match remaining.
In the other two games Brandon had 16 overs to spare in knocking off Willington’s modest 147, while it was a similar story at Felling where the home team laboured to 124 and then watched helplessly as Washington cruised to a seven wicket success.