Leaders beaten in upturned table

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On a sensational Sunday the North Yorkshire & South Durham Premier League table was turned upside down as Thornaby won in dramatic fashion at Feethams to topple leaders Darlington and Stokesley hammered second-placed Great Ayton by nine wickets.

The Quakers looked on course for a routine victory over the bottom club after bowling them out for a paltry 71, Jon Barnes once again scattering the opposition with a 16 over spell of 5-25.

But Omar Shahid’s 41 was to prove pivotal on a day when all other batsmen struggled, no more so than Darlington’s as they were skittled for just 59, Faizal Hussain (6-23) and Danny Wade (3-13) routing the home team.

South African speed merchant Brandon Viret (3-39) shook the early Ayton batters in a ferocious 17 over spell at Leven Park, and with James Beaumont (4-34) and Andrew Weighell (3-12) providing great support Ayton were humbled for 91.

Stokesley skipper Weighell (50) and his brother Jonny (42no) then quickly took the game away from the home team with an opening stand of 89.

With luckless Richmond going back into second place with the six points from their abandoned match, Guisborough also leapfrogged pointless Ayton to end the double programme in third after they savaged Marton by 147 runs. Chris Allinson (70 and 3-31) and Chris Nicholls (6-25) did the emphatic business for the Priorymen.

It was a case of ‘oh brother’ at Billingham where Craig Symington took 6-39 to put Hartlepool out for 118, only to be upstaged by sibling Marc who scored 61 of those and then took 3-12 as the Synners were shot out for just 63.

A 15-year-old batsman playing in only his second game in the top division stood firm against the League’s three most outstanding bowlers on Saturday and, as a result, the championship leaders, Darlington were ultimately thwarted in their bid to register their eighth win in 11 games.

Junior wicket-keeper Elliott Holmes defied the high class efforts of Jon Barnes, Doug Mulholland and Peter Armstrong to keep alive Billingham’s hopes of saving a game which was slipping away disastrously from their grasp when he came to the wicket.

Their top three batsmen had gone for just four runs when Holmes faced the first of 58 balls from which he scored 29 runs and made sure Synthonia progressed to 53 for the loss of just four more wickets.

A few overs later – and with their last two batsmen at the crease – the game was abandoned because of rain, but the hosts had fought off what looked like certain defeat.

The wily Barnes, the season’s top wicket taker, shared six with Mulholland while Armstrong grabbed a couple. Between them they bowled all but three of the 34 overs as Billingham finished on 59 for nine.

But Holmes, in what was his first senior game of the season, lived up to his name in detecting the different deliveries the brilliant bowling trio served up to him!

Darlington’s amazing luck with the weather – especially being in the right place to overcome most of the elements – came as their title challengers, Richmondshire, were again unable to get into the middle just a few miles away. Their game at Normanby Hall was called off hours before it was due to start.

As a result Great Ayton moved into second place on Saturday night after giving a real thrashing to Marske who were bowled out for just 80. The in-form Chris Batchelor hit his first century of the season – a majestic 102 from 111 balls – to take the total number of hundreds scored throughout the League in the truncated ‘summer’ to six.

Batchelor, who shared in partnerships of 97 with Brad Moses and 80 with Josh Thompson, cracked 8 fours and 3 sixes to delight the home onlookers. Moses hit a sedate 34 and Thompson a spirited 36 from 34 balls as Ayton posted 259 for seven in 43 overs with 128 of them in boundaries.

Marske professional, Dominic Hendricks (4-39), excelled in his seven overs but failed with the bat as his side slumped to 32 for the loss of six wickets with Lewis Harper (3-16) and Chris Witherley (2-21) doing the early damage.

Steve Pennock (4-19) had them on 61 for nine before the final pair cracked a few late runs. The entire innings, which brought four catches for Ayton keeper Jon Grainge, lasted just 29.2 overs.

Saturday was also a good day for near neighbours Stokesley who won for the third time in five days after going two months without a single victory.

Their first league win, which was at Marton, lifted them off the bottom of the league. Having previously inflicted defeat on both Darlington and Middlesbrough to reach the finals day in the Tall Trees Hotel Macmillan Cup they couldn’t have followed with more important opponents than last year’s champions to give their new-found confidence a massive extra boost.

Marton’s batting collapsed alarmingly as South African Brandon Viret (5-40) produced his best figures of the season. They were all out for 73 in 32.2 overs with Clive Dowson (2-21) and Andrew Weighell (3-9) making important strikes.

Only Neil Russell (25) shone in an otherwise disappointing batting display. Stokesley won by eight wickets as skipper Weighell (43 not out) stuck to his task like glue.

Thornaby slipped to the foot of the table where five teams were separated by just four points on Saturday night. The Mandale club gave a spirited display at Guisborough (180-9) where they finished just 23 runs behind with their last pair at the wicket making sure of a draw.

Danny Wade (5-22) produced his best in the Premier Division while Jonny Spillane (43) impressed against his former club.

Rain put a premature end to the clash between Hartlepool (127 for seven) and Middlesbrough (49 for one). The game was reduced to 35 overs per side but Boro faced just 16 of their allocation as the weather had the last say.

In a rain affected weekend of cricket there was only one fixture in the division to see any cricket played, which was at Stone. The home side took on Wood Lane and the match ended in a draw. Stone batted first and closed their innings on 175-5 from 33.3 overs, James Dawson top scored with 65. In the second innings only 16 overs were possible, Wood Lane finishing on 57 for one.

Games at Cheadle against Leek, Knypersley versus Burslem, Little Stoke against Audley, Longton and Hem Heath, and Porthill Park versus Checkley, were all abandoned with no play possible.