A MAJOR setback for Chester-le-Street and a major batting recovery by Sunderland were the main highlights of Saturday’s action in the NEPL.
Given the downpours in the lead-up to the second round of league matches, it was pleasantly surprising that five of the six scheduled top flight games took place
It was perhaps ironic that the only casualty was Durham Academy’s fixture, given that they had been involved in the only game to see any real action the week before.
However, for the Cestrians it was possibly a case of wishing the weather had intervened as they went down by 40 runs to their fiercest rivals, South North.
The game looked evenly poised at the halfway stage, with the Bulls having eased their way to a score of 183 in one ball short of 64 overs.
Liam Simpson turned in a great performance with the ball, bagging five wickets for 55 runs in his 20 overs and skipper Quentin Hughes picked up 3-38 to help in pegging the home team back.
But any plans the Cestrians had of a carefully constructed reply soon flew out of the window as five wickets went down quickly to undermine their confidence.
Even though Simpson held the remnants of the innings together with an unbeaten 64, he eventually ran out of partners with 23 balls of the match remaining.
One week after slumping ignominiously to 49-7, Sunderland became the top scorers on the day when they amassed 218-9 in their game at Gateshead Fell.
They owed much of their progress to a 67-run opening stand, followed by a third wicket partnership of 95.
Mark Drake was instrumental in both, making 76, including nine boundaries and with Michael Robson (37) and Greg Applegarth (34) providing the impetus, the Wearsiders were happy with their 59-over total.
For the Fell, Shoaib Khan impressed on his debut with 19 overs in which he took 3-35 and Michael Dicks was the other main threat as he collected 4-68.
Gateshead never really got going in their reply as Kieran Waterson (3-23) maintained his strong start to the campaign and after 61 overs they were happy enough to claim a safe share of the spoils on 140-7.
A fascinating struggle took place at Preston Avenue where visitors Hetton Lyons and hosts Tynemouth failed to capitalise on sound starts.
Lyons looked poised for a bigger score than their eventual 182 when they stood on 145-4 after early contributions from Shaun Birbeck (40), Ryan Pringle (39) and Kamran Shah (58).
However, they lost their way with four late ducks as South African debutant Patrick Botha profited in an 18-over stint that yielded 4-42.
Tynemouth then looked set for success as they recovered from a perilous 39-4 through some brilliant batting from Rory Cox.
He became the first century maker of the summer and with Andrew Smith playing a great supporting role with 41, the pair took their team up to 152-4, just 31 runs short of victory, only to see their ambitions thwarted with four wickets falling for the addition of just 10 more runs.
Cox’s ton came from 183 balls and included 11 fours, while Pringle proved his worth for the Lyons once more with five for 49.
Elsewhere, South Shields looked to have done the hard part by bowling out Blaydon for 149, Mattie Muchall and Kris McShane sharing six of the wickets.
However, an abject batting display saw them collapse from 28-1 to 70 all out and a 79-run defeat, while Stockton had Benwell Hill clinging on with their last pair at the crease in a game that lost nearly four hours as everyone waited for the ground to dry out.