Who’s going to finish second to Burnopfield in the Readers Durham Cricket League’s top division?
That might seem a ludicrous question to ask just four games into a 22-match season, but it’s beginning to look like the Durham old boys brigade are set to dominate proceedings.
Another emphatic display at the weekend produced another maximum points haul – their fourth in a row - and with second-placed Easington crashing to a home defeat against Bill Quay, and third-placed Philadelphia the latest Burnopfield victims, a yawning gap of 54 points has opened up.
And there might be more yawns in store if this goes on for too long!
Phili travelled to the table-toppers in confident mood, and when they grabbed two early wickets spirits were high.
But the life was gradually sucked out of their attack as James Radcliffe (12 fours and two sixes in 101) and Gareth Breese (79) took the game away in a substantial third-wicket stand that laid the foundations for a declaration after 45 overs on 257-7.
Stevie Wright and Adam McGuire both grabbed three wickets.
With a theoretical 50 overs to bat, Phili almost made it to the sanctuary of a draw, but three late ducks saw the innings close on 161 with just a few balls remaining.
Shaun Smith (43), Shaun Hauxwell (34) and Paul Hollinshead (27) led the way.
Daryl Williams, with four wickets, was the main thorn in Phili sides, but Breese’s 11-over spell of 2-16 oozed class.
Easington’s home defeat at the hands of Bill Quay was something of a shock, but former Hylton skipper Alan Mustard proved the difference with 45 runs and three wickets for three runs as the hosts fell 58 runs short of the modest target set by the visitors of 143-9.
Josh Eaton added 49 not out to Mustard’s knock, while Tariq Aziz bagged 4-25.
Robbie Atherton (41) top-scored for Easington, who were rocked by Michael Porridge’s 5-34.
A couple of weeks ago, Dawdon defeated Seaham Park in their first derby meeting for three years, but since then there has been a reversal of fortunes with Dawdon suffering their second successive defeat and Park picking up their second successive victory
Dawdon’s demise was dramatic.
They restricted reigning champions Esh Winning to a score of 99, with Bavesh Patel taking 4-16 and Mark Ewart 3-30, and then breezed along to 48-0, led by Steven Gale (29) and Alan Anderson (20) but Jibran Khan (5-10) and Jordan Grossert (3-1) precipitated an almighty collapse which saw all 10 wickets evaporate for just 18 runs.
Meanwhile, Park were seeing off struggling Hylton in an entertaining clash, although their hosts could hold their heads up high after rattling up a score of 224-9 in just 41 overs, with Liam Foster’s 45 backed by Andrew Kibble (34) and Steven Merrington (33).
Seaham’s response began with Chris Allan’s half-century, 40 of those runs coming in boundaries, and Siddharth Chitnis (48 not out, following 3-48 with the ball) then provided the anchor for Omar Shahid to blast 17 fours and a six in an unbeaten 87 that rushed his team to a six-wicket win.
Horden’s bright new dawn is not proving to be quite just that as yet, a second defeat leaving them floundering in the danger zone.
Castle Eden were their undoing on this occasion, Keith Bailey bagging 4-28 as the home team mustered just 113 in 38.2 overs, thanks largely to Jamie Greenwood (29), Liam Irving (27) and Connor Dickinson (22no) and then Tebogo Mokwena easing his new team-mates to a seven-wicket win with an unbeaten 39. Alan Unsworth made 26, while Scott Birks bagged 3-33.
Durham City held on for a draw with 158-9 in reply to Crook Town’s 199-9 declared.
Steven Chapman (57), Andrew Pratt (48) and Tearan Gleeson sparked Crook, despite three wickets apiece from Jonny Harding and Danni Hazell.
Will Dobson (47) and Nick Howe (39) boosted City, while Ian Conn’s unbeaten six off 33 balls secured the draw.