THERE were headlines aplenty in the Readers Durham Cricket League on Saturday, with unexpected derby joy for Seaham Park, delight for Horden in a nerve-jangling game against the leaders, and a three-place jump into the top six by Boldon CA.
But nowhere was there more satisfaction than at Bill Quay, where pre-season title favourites Burnmoor won to claim pole position at a crucial stage of the season.
Moor’s chance to grab the leaders’ mantle from season-long table toppers Esh Winning came courtesy of Horden, who emerged victorious by just a single wicket from a low scoring but emotionally draining home clash with the County League champions.
The normally reliable Esh batting line-up failed on this occasion, bowled out for just 106, a score that would have been even worse but for a late unbeaten 29 from number nine batsman Paul Chivers (27no).
Adam Dixon (3-18) and Scott Birks (4-43) were the key men for Horden, but then Jalat Khan (4-18) looked like pulling the game out of the fire for the top dogs with 12 excellent overs.
But, with four still wanted when the last pair came together, Birks claimed the man-of-the-match tag, his 17 not out winning the game under extreme pressure.
Burnmoor did not need any second invitations and, despite a feisty showing from hosts Bill Quay, they duly won by 69 runs to move into an ominous 20-point lead at the top of the table.
South African Brandon Scullard, revelling in the warm conditions, took the main plaudits, his 95 runs being followed by a four-wicket burst. With Karl Bellerby chipping in with a half-century and two wickets, Quay were unlocked for 170 in reply to Moor’s 239-6.
Seaham derbies were frequent in recent Coast League days when three teams from the town meant there were six such occasions each year.
But with clubs going their own way at the end of 2012 it left just one match to look forward to in the inaugural Durham League campaign, and Seaham Park were able to overturn the form book and claim 12-month-long bragging rights with an emphatic victory over Dawdon.
Park had only won once prior to their home game against eight-time winners Dawdon, but the derby atmosphere stirred the home side and they put on their best display of the summer to hammer their local rivals by eight wickets.
Dawdon struggled to make headway against Ali Watson (4-28) and were eventually bowled out for 161, and then it was over to Gaulav Jathar, the Indian stroking 13 boundaries in a free-flowing 81 not out which secured the victory inside 41 overs.
* Full report in today’s Sunderland Echo