Walker’s 147 helps Whitburn get off to a flyer

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At long last, the newly formed First Division is underway, and Whitburn got off to the very best of starts by hammering visitors Felling by 100 runs.

It may be a new league, but there’s no doubting the long established match-winning skills of Stuart Walker, and he provided the perfect opening day for Whitburn as he took the Felling attack apart.

Walker was merciless as he cracked 23 fours and 5 sixes before eventually falling for a scintillating 147, having taken Whitburn up to 238-3 at that point.

Ross Carty (37), Michael Turns (34no) and skipper Andrew Turns (29no) then rubbed salt in the Felling wounds before time was called after 42 overs, with the home team on 278-4.

Felling made a decent enough fist of the initial part of their reply, Chris Goudie (39) and Phil Taylor (42) boosting them at one point to 108-1.

However, the wickets began to fall and despite a defiant half century from Paul Leonard, the end came quickly as the last three wickets fell without a run being scored.

Walker fittingly applying the coup de grace with 2-5, after Michael Bittlestone (3-42) had done the hard yards.

Brandon were one of the pre-season favourites to do well, got their campaign off to a winning start when they defeated South Hetton by 22 runs.

Former Durham and Notts man Karl Turner got them away perfectly with 68, but three wickets apiece for John Leslie, John Pendlington and Robbie Atherton ensured the home team could only post a target of 197.

Leslie then starred with the bat as well, cracking 82, but when he became one of Ruel Brathwaite’s three victims.

Debutant Eddie Watson finished Hetton off with 4-45.

The other three matches all ended as draws, although, Sacriston came mighty close to winning their game at Willington, only to be denied by the home team’s last pair.

Mo Ali gave Sacriston a solid start despite losing several partners in the early stages, and his 57 provided the platform for the eventual total of 193-9 in 55 overs.

Graham Hubber’s late 34, and a generous helping of 30 extras, helped boost the cause.

Willington never really got into any kind of stride as they lost wickets regularly, and with Ian Hunter (4-48) keeping them on the back foot, their final pair had to see out three overs to take them to 150-9 at the end of their 50 overs.

Boldon and Seaham Harbour enjoyed a keen tussle before stumps were drawn.

Harbour’s new overseas star, Swaru Purkayastha, taking the main individual plaudits.

He hit an unbeaten 77 from 125 balls, and with Neil McKinney (38no) showing his class in a 51-ball cameo at the end, Harbour closed out on 209-5.

Boldon started well when they set off on the run chase, opener Chris Ellison (26) helping put on 59 for the first wicket.

But his partner, Shaun Hauxwell, found support difficult to come by after that, and although he went on to make 68 at a run-a-ball, once he became one of Purkayastha’s three victims the task looked beyond the home side.

When Dale Shaw bagged 4-32, Boldon had to be content to finish on 183-8.

Eppleton had two players scoring 91 in their home game against Washington.

Kyle Davis and Dean Musther sharing a second wicket partnership of 131 which helped lift their side to a declaration after 52 overs on 258-4.

Washington had a real penchant for drawing matches in the old Coast League, and they started life in the new league in similar fashion.

Ash Thorpe held them together with an undefeated 90 scored from 116 balls, as his new team ended on 180-7.