CHESTER-LE-STREET avoided the downpours that decimated the rest of the Dukes North East Premier League on Saturday to secure another victory in their quest to make it three championships in a row.
The win yielded a maximum points haul to increase the Cestrians’ lead at the top to an imposing 37 points, leaving the rest to fear a one-team procession with the season not even at the halfway stage.
The power of the Chester side means they don’t need outside help, but they weren’t going to look a gift horse in the mouth at the weekend, in a match where once again they got themselves into a bit of bother – and once again got themselves out of it.
While it wasn’t raining at Grangefield, hosts Stockton made heavy weather of their innings after winning the toss and electing to bat.
And it was Richard Waite who proved a thorn in their side.
Only opener Jonathan Rickard looked comfortable, hitting seven fours and a six before being trapped by Andrew Smith for 48 from 107 balls.
That wicket fell with the score on 96 and after that it was a grind before the innings collapsed in a heap to Waite, as the score went from 145-6 to 152 all out, the last three wickets falling in four balls without a run being scored.
Waite ended a marathon 19-over spell with 5-47 and Quentin Hughes chipped in with 2-29 in 13 overs.
Chester then struggled themselves, despite an opening stand of 61 between Simon Birtwisle (35) and John Coxon (28).
That was ended by the introduction of Rickard to the attack, who sent them spiralling to 63-3 and then 89-5.
With 64 still needed there was plenty of work for the sixth wicket partnership of Waite (40no) and Ian Hunter (36no) to do, but they did it with skill and application to seize victory in the 38th over.
The only other game to see a reasonable amount of play was at Hetton Lyons, where Sunderland put on 195-8, Joe Coyne batting through the innings for an unbeaten 88.
Ashley Thorpe was the one batsman to give Coyne support, making 49 before being run out going for the half-century.
Gary Adey and Ryan Pringle shared six wickets in the Lyons attack and Pringle went on to score an unbeaten 40 in the home team’s truncated reply, which closed on 96-3, Shaun Birbeck (32) the other main contributor.
Only 16 overs of play were possible at South Shields, where the Durham Academy had made good progress to a score of 94-1, with Rami Singh (26no) nicely poised to go for a third consecutive ton before he was robbed of the opportunity, while elsewhere the weather ended up being the only winner.