Readers Durham Cricket​ League

IT wasn’t quite a false dawn but the opening day of the season proved to be something of a damp squib as six matches across the new twodivision structure fell foul of the weather.

But the rain couldn’t stop champions Burnmoor exerting their influence as they toppled a fancied Mainsforth side by 76 runs to go joint top of the day-one table along with Dawdon, who turned in an impressive display to overcome Castle Eden.

The Moor are heavy favourites to retain their title and claim a place in the NEPL next year, but they struggled through almost 49 overs to post a modest 146-8 that looked vulnerable at the interval.

The star of the show was Neil Young, who has just returned to the club from Eppleton.

He cracked 63 runs from just 62 balls and struck three sixes in an innings that made light of other batsmen’s struggles.

Mainsforth’s new boy, Martin Lower, was the pick of a frugal home attack, claiming 3-18 from his 12 overs.

Brydon Carse was the other Burnmoor batsman to show potential, scoring 25 runs, then the 18-year-old South African from Port Elizabeth demonstrated his all-round skills as he joined Karl Bellerby in dismantling the Mainsforth reply.

The pair claimed eight wickets between them with only home professional Mohammed Nawaz (30) able to resist for any length of time, and the run chase ended 76 runs short when the final wicket fell with the total on 83 in the 31st over.

Dawdon’s route to the top followed a similar path – a semi-respectable batting effort followed by dominance with the ball.

John Leslie looks to be a great acquisition and the proven performer notched up a half-century on debut to join with Stephen Gale (58 including 11 boundaries) in lifting the hosts to an all out total of 162 in 35 overs after Alan Unsworth and Ryan Ball shared six wickets for Castle Eden. Leslie confirmed his all-round qualities as he bagged three wickets in the Castle reply, although the main accolades went to Mark Ewart, who claimed six wickets for 27 runs in a telling 12- over stint which included six maidens. Dawdon’s day of delight was fittingly concluded by Leslie, who bowled Ball to wrap up a 67-run victory.

Philadelphia looked to have one of the toughest tasks of the opening day against Tudhoe, who impressed in the second half of last summer, but they managed to ease over the winning line in a low-scoring game.

Peter Greenwell (4-24) and Mirza Baig (3-25) tied Tudhoe down to 95 in just three balls short of 40 overs, but the nerves set in when Phili’s first four batsmen mustered just 17 runs between them. With South African seamer Kushen Kishun impressing on debut it took an outstanding knock from David Baxter to turn the game around Baxter raced to a half-century in 38 balls, going on to crack ten fours and two sixes in an unbeaten 63 that proved the difference.

With no one else in double figures – the other eight batsmen contributed just 26 in total – Baxter’s effort proved invaluable in the three-wicket win. Kishun ended with 4- 28 in a losing cause.

The other top-flight match took place at Marsden where the home team struggled to 125 against a six-pronged Easington attack. Though their bowlers fought back to claim five wickets, contributions throughout the order, led by David Tarn’s 34, ensured the visitors’ season began positively.

Only two games defied the elements in Division Two, and both ended in stalemate.

The highlight of Durham’s match at Murton was the City opening partnership between Will Allum, who hit nine fours and a six in a 111-ball 80, and skipper Jake McCann, whose 60 came from 91 balls and included seven boundaries.

With 208-7 to chase, Murton were never in the hunt and closed out on 111-8, with Danni Hazell claiming 3- 25.

Langley Park’s batsmen raised the day’s highest score of 261-8, Keith Smith top scoring with 53. Peterlee clung on to claim a share of the spoils on 111-8, despite five wickets for David Jones.