A DOUBLE weekend beckons in the Readers Durham Cricket League.
Given the fact that it features a couple of head-to-heads among the leading trio, it should provide the necessary spark that has been missing in recent weeks as the top three have pummelled opponents on a regular basis.
Yet again on Saturday, there were maximum points hauls for Esh Winning, Burnmoor and Castle Eden.
But Esh’s 14-point lead is set to come under its first really serious challenge this weekend as they play both of their closest challengers.
Ahead of that exciting prospect, it was business as usual with Esh the most pressed of the threesome when Ushaw Moor nearly escaped with a draw before their final wicket fell on 179 with just a few balls of the game remaining. That left them defeated by 37 runs.
With just 210 games gone, the range of abilities in the 26-team league was emphasised by the fact that a gargantuan 212 points now separates top from bottom.
Burnmoor completed a regulation win despite a couple of acts of defiance from Ryhope, who eventually lost by 78 runs.
David Lowther hit 10 fours and a six in a good-looking 73, and with Jimmy Daley making 32, and Paul Davidson adding impetus with a rapid unbeaten 43, Moor declared after just 39.1 overs on 221-4.
Brandon Scullard then caused havoc with an eight-over burst in which he claimed 5-12. Even though 18-year-old opener Scott Lawrence hit a defiant half-century, and John Errington (21no) and Liam Kirk (25) held the Burnmoor stream-roller up for a while late on, Ryhope eventually fell for 143 in 43 overs.
Whiteleas’ heady early days in the new league are becoming a bit of a distant memory.
Four wins in their opening seven games have now been followed by three consecutive defeats, the latest coming by 140 runs at Castle Eden.
Home skipper John Spellman set the tone with a 99-ball 80, which included 10 fours and three sixes. With Kamran Shah adding 69 in 64 balls, the hosts looked like posting a huge total, but Whiteleas fought back well to dismiss their hosts for 214 in 43.3 overs.
But the visitors were rolled over themselves for a meagre 74 in 29.1 overs.
Shah completed a decidedly useful all-round effort with four wickets for just eight runs from nine overs, with Alan Unsworth nipping in to bag 3-4.