Jennings tees up Stockton win
Versatile Keaton Jennings, the former South Africa Under 19’s captain, stepped up to become the match winner when Stockton grabbed their first victory of the season.
After hitting the high spots this season, with a double century for Durham’s second eleven the most recent highlight, the talented all-rounder showed what he could do with the ball for his new club team.
And the six wickets he took against Tynemouth moved the Teessiders out of the bottom three giving them hope of even better things to come.
Mind you, Stockton, who won by just four runs in a nail biting climax, found scoring runs themselves no easy matter at Preston Avenue. Jennings went for just ten and only Jon Rickard, who made 21, looked comfortable.
When they were all out for 95 it looked ominous but Jennings got to work with the ball to cause the home batsmen all kinds of difficulties. He finished with his six wickets from 15.5 overs, which included four trapped leg before victims and the other two clean bowled. Richard Waite (4-20) was also in good form to become the perfect partner as Tynemouth collapsed.
Only three of their batsmen reached double figures, although Marcus Turner celebrated his promotion from the second team by top scoring with 47. Earlier his bowling colleagues, David Hymers (4-35). Patrick Botha (3-5) and Andrew Smith (3-49), appeared to have done enough to tip the game Tynemouth’s way.
With league leaders Sunderland held to a draw by champions South North it became catch-up time for Blaydon and Chester-le-Street who head the chasing pack. Both teams also drew their games but by taking 15 and 12 points respectively, closed the gap. Only ten points now separate the top three.
Blaydon came close to beating Hetton Lyons whose last wicket pair hung on at 101 for nine as defeat stared them in the face. Openers Shaun Birbeck (24) and Jarvis Clay (20) set out as if they were going to spring a shock defeat on their visitors, but six of their remaining batsmen managed just 13 runs among them and the draw might have been more than they had expected.
Blaydon’s Geoff Stewart top scored with an unbeaten 45 in their innings of 128 for nine as Anthony Watson (4-38) and Kamran Shah (3-27) exploited the wicket well. In the Lyons reply Ben Raine took five wickets.
Chester-le-Street met the current squad of Academy stars but gave them a tough time as their top three batsmen, Simon Birtwisle (60), John Coxon (61) and Andy Smith (50), took the Cestrians beyond 200 before a declaration came after 39 overs.
The Academy hit back with 61 from Cole Pearce, but the combination of Andrew Tye (3-19), Liam Simpson (3-35 ) and Graeme Cessford (2-34) proved overpowering, and at 115 for eight they were 100 runs adrift at the finish.
Sunderland’s high flying start to the season was tested to the full by the Bulls who reached 208 for seven with Adam Cragg (79) and Jimmy Miller (42) showing star quality.
Chris Hooker got three of the seven wickets to fall and then held firm with the bat when his former colleagues looked as if they might grab the win. Sunderland finished on 119 for seven – 89 runs behind - but with Hooker holding up one end with an unbeaten 22. Jonny Wightman (3-34) was the most effective bowler for the visitors.
Elsewhere the basement battle witnessed Gateshead Fell slumping for 68 and losing to Benwell Hill by nine wickets, while the Tyne ‘derby’ between South Shields and Newcastle ended in stalemate, although not before Rameez Shahzad hit 70 and took six wickets.