Durham paceman Chris Rushworth signed on the dotted line for Sacriston a few days ago, and what an impact he made on his debut on Saturday when Seaham Harbour bore the full brunt of his skills.
A virtuoso performance had Harbour all at sea, and the eventual winning margin of 154 runs bore testimony to the dominance of a Sacriston side who became the new leaders after securing a maximum points return.
Harbour were doing reasonably well in the early stages, and had their hosts under relative control on 137-5, but Rushworth and former County man Graeme Bridge decided that attack was the best option. And they succeeded spectacularly in an unbroken partnership of 138, effectively doubling the score in the blink of an eye.
Bridge’s innings of 63 not out spanned just 61 balls, and featured 10 boundaries, but Rushworth was particularly brutal, smashing five fours and seven sixes on his whirlwind way to 84 from just 51 balls.
Set a daunting 275-5, Seaham were sunk once a third-wicket stand of 49 between Ian Pattison (42) and Dale Shaw (32) was broken, despite some attempts at defiance.
After resisting with all their might to reach apparent safety on 116-3, their last seven wickets fell in an unseemly heap, as just five more runs were added.
Rushworth, as is his wont, ended matters in rather dramatic fashion as he inflicted four ducks on a startled tail, and he closed with figures of 5-19 from 14.5 overs. Harbour were just four overs from salvation.
Sunderland are another side wondering what hit them.
The Wearsiders went down by 125 runs at Felling, where Mark Turner lashed 10 fours and five sixes in an unbeaten 108 to provide the hosts with a declaration opportunity after 50 overs on 219-8.
The Ashbrooke response was timid, and they were easily bowled out for just 94 inside 29 overs, defeat leaving them uncomfortably close to the relegation zone. Gary Scott bagged 4-7.
Burnmoor and Boldon found run-scoring a somewhat difficult art on a murky afternoon, but it was the visitors who came out on top as their new overseas man came up trumps.
Umar Waheed has first-class experience, and this showed as he became easily the top scorer in the match with 47 runs as Boldon limped to 134 all out in 51 overs. Kevin Dixon and Liam Burgess shared six wickets for Burnmoor, who seemed to hold all the aces at the interval.
But, in an abject batting display, the home team slumped to 76 all out, just one man making it to double figures as they lost by 58 runs. Ian Male delivered once more with 3-12 from seven overs, while Waheed completed a fine all-round display as he bagged three cheap wickets.
Mainsforth secured a third straight win by six wickets over Blaydon, who were rolled over for 90, Washington were thumped by 103 runs on home soil, bowled out for a woeful 49 as Moin Ashraf (5-24) hit his straps for Brandon at last, and Willington added to bottom club Tudhoe’s woes as they handed out a 159-run drubbing.
This last match featured an awesome display of batting by Anand Singh and Will Phillips. Singh, last year’s top batter, blasted 17 fours and two sixes on his way to 128, but Phillips outdid him on this occasion with two sixes and 20 other boundaries in an innings of 150 not out. Willington posted 296-5 in just 45 overs, a total that proved way too rich for Tudhoe.