IF anyone still subscribes to the view that village cricket is now part of a bygone age and in irreversible decline then perhaps they might have changed their opinion if they had witnessed a truly thrilling local derby in the Feversham Cricket League at High Farndale where Gillamoor were the visitors.

Gillamoor, batting first, appeared unduly suspicious of the pitch, not that they had any cause, and decided to adopt a high risk strategy of trying to score runs off almost every ball. The outcome was that batsmen two to five in the order managed just ten runs between them, even the usually prolific Nick Thornicroft succumbed, caught, for 20. Destroyer in chief was Vernon Smith. Just bowl straight and the wickets will come was his philosophy, and how well he succeeded. From a seemingly innocuous run-up Smith was unplayable, as his amazing figures of five overs, five wickets for just four runs bear testimony.

Gillamoor did manage to deal with the rest of the bowling with much greater confidence thanks to an untroubled 27 not out from Tom Atkinson, strongly supported by Jimmy Buckle who, despite his slightly unorthodox running between the wickets, contributed 16. H Pinder had figures of two for 21, as Gillamoor were dismissed for 82 in the 18th over.

The general consensus amongst the few spectators was that the target for High Farndale would prove just a little too difficult for them to attain. Openers Richard Smith (16) and Mark Aconley (11), however, confounded those doubters by just about surviving until they were parted with the total on 38. There were many edged shots, byes, and a lot of playing and missing which clearly began to frustrate Gillamoor. Sam Farrar took two for 21, but the focus of attention then switched to High Farndale's Craig Sunley who proceeded to play one of the most memorable innings of his long career. Setting caution aside, Sunley kept peppering the boundary with his trademark lofted shots. Despite the modern huddles at the fall of wickets at the other end, much frequent arm waving to organise field placings, and plenty of encouragement to fielders, Gillamoor simply couldn't stop Sunley despite their best efforts until the first ball of the last over when he was caught for 28. By which time it was too late as High Farndale notched the winning run with three balls remaining for the loss of five wickets amidst much home vocal jubilation.

Duncombe Park C.C. (Helmsley) has always been, and still is, regarded as the "home" of the Feversham League since its inception in the 1920s, despite not having participated since 2013. Hope that they might one day return have so far not materialised. However, they at least accepted an invitation to enter the Countess of Feversham Cup, where they travelled to Slingsby in the first round.

Duncombe Park had a pretty decent line-up at their disposal, but it was one of their less well known batsmen, Scott Plowman, who fully deserved the accolades with an undefeated 54, which included three sixes. Brian Leckenby, who has a great affinity with this competition, compiled 33,and with Patrick O'Bank's 12, Duncombe Park were able to reach a respectable 134 for four in 18 overs. Captain Ben Corner took two for 18, and he was left to rue a number of missed opportunities in the field both from dropped catches and conceding unnecessary boundaries.

Slingsby's openers, Corner and J Richardson put on 101 for the first wicket against a Duncombe Park youthful attack, spearheaded by Harvey Stockdale. Richardson eventually fell for 37, whilst Corner managed to make a defiant 69 (three sixes). However, Slingsby couldn't match the required run-rate, and closed 17 runs short when the overs expired on 117 for two. Duncombe Park are now away to Great Habton in the semi-final.

It was not only the England football team which experienced disappointment after their tepid display against Scotland in Euro 2020, but Gilamoor C.C. also suffered. Switching their league match to Slingsby to enable them to subsequently watch the TV coverage appeared to be a sensible move, even more so when they batted first in a reduced 12 overs a side contest, and, rattling along at 11.16 runs per over, reached what they must have thought was an unassailable 134 for three. G Evison (50 not out, three sixes), Sam Farrow (28, three sixes), A Snowball (25, two sixes), and J Maw (23, one six) were in terrific form and made light work of the Slingsby bowlers.

Slingsby, however, had their ace batsman available, Steve Beal, and he certainly didn't disappoint. S Newton (27) and Ben Corner (26 not out, two sixes) were essential ingredients, but it was Beal who stole the limelight. Having hit five sixes, he was still at the crease with 69 runs to his name when Slingsby recorded an unexpected seven wicket victory with four balls to spare. T Hodgson got two for 14.

That very same evening,instead of playing at High Farndale, the team decamped to Rosedale Abbey where the latter in wet and unpleasant conditions chose to bat first. Unfortunately for them only James Dun looked capable of mastering the High Farndale bowling attack. Whilst he made a plucky 29, he wasn't exactly popular with two of his colleagues who he ran out. H Pinder (three for 24) and T Hunt (two for six) restricted Rosedale Abbey to 71 all out.

High Farndale experienced virtually no trouble in overhauling this below par total which they succeeded in doing in the 11th over for the loss of only three wickets, those of R Smith (23), W Gibson (22) and T Hunt (15). J Smith took two for 22.

The race for the league championship and the top four play-offs appears to be wide open at these early stages. Latest positions are: Gillamoor Pl 4 Pts 6, High Farndale Pl 4 Pts 6, Slingsby Pl 3 Pts 6, Rosedale Abbey Pl 3 Pts 3, Glaisdale Pl 2 Pts 3, Lockton Pl 2 Pts 3.