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Richmondshire restored as favourites

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Two successive victories and a change of fortune with the weather have restored Richmondshire as favourites to win the 2012 Darlington North Yorkshire and South Durham championship.

With league leaders Darlington hit by the ‘monsoon’ conditions which had in previous weeks almost wiped out the hopes of their principal rivals, the teams are now just six points apart with the second half of the season having begun in earnest on Saturday.

The Quakers got in just 90 minutes batting time at Sedgefield when another horrendous storm flooded the already overburdened outfield and the game was abandoned.

Richmond’s visit to Barnard Castle, although interrupted several times by rain, managed to beat the elements for the Dalesmen to complete a remarkable feat, clawing back 25 points over two weekends to almost catch the leaders.

Richmond suffered four rain interruptions before bowling out their close neighbours for 123 with long serving professional, Shani Dissanayake, in brilliant form. He was just about unplayable as he spun out six of the Barney batsmen for just 16 runs in 17 overs, receiving excellent support from James Clarkson who took three of the other four wickets.

Only James Sutton (43) showed determination as he top scored from 71 balls with seven boundaries.
Richmond’s Gary Pratt, who hit 43 from 61 balls, and skipper Mike Layfield, who made 32, needed just 28.2 overs to get over the finishing line. They won by six wickets.

Great Ayton remain closest to the leading pair even though they were involved in a rare ‘no result’ game with Thornaby, who still remain in danger of returning to the lower division.

This was another game hit by the weather although Ayton posted 169 with Chris Batchelor hitting 67. The last five batsmen fell for 24 runs as Dale Metcalfe (5-50) returned his best figures of the season.

But Lewis Harper hit back to take three of the first four Thornaby wickets to fall for just 35 before a series of further rain breaks saw them recover thanks to Omar Shahid (42 not out). They finished on 94 for seven having faced just 23 overs.

Thornaby’s unexpected return of 11 points shook up the bottom of the table. They are now among four clubs within two points of each other – Stokesley, whose game at Billingham never got started, Sedgefield, who became waterlogged and Marske, who figured in a losing draw with Marton.

This featured the league’s seventh century maker of the season, the excellent Walli Ghauri whose outstanding display took the former champions, despite a depleted team, to 237 for the loss of just three wickets, their best batting display. His hundred came from 150 balls with eight fours and three sixes and featured a 172-run partnership with Lee Hodgson whose unbeaten 72 from 83 balls included eight boundaries.

In reply Marske lost both their openers for just three runs but recovered to reach 111 for three in a reduced 34 overs. This was the result of a 102-run stand between Gary Lynch (49 not out) and Richie Evans (47 not out).

Normanby Hall lifted their spirits – and their lowly league position – by beating Hartlepool, who in contrast have hit a bad patch of form. Janaka Gunarathne was the match winner for the Hall with 49 and 5-49, bowling 17 overs and then facing 73 balls before being run out.

Pool were disappointed not to get more than 133 for seven in their 50 overs and it needed Marc Symington (51 not out) to bat throughout their innings to achieve this. Liam Prosser, with 24, was their second highest scorer.

After Gunarathne’s knock it needed a brisk 30 from Graham Shaw to win the match despite three wickets for Symington and two for fellow ‘pro’, Kasun Bodhisha. Nassar Hussain, who made 28 for the winners, shared a partnership of 49 with Gunarathne after Hall lost three wickets for just 30 runs.

Middlesbrough defeated old rivals Guisborough by three wickets in a tense finish. Chris Allinson (3-62) was bowling the last over when a final boundary gave Boro victory by three wickets.

James Lowe (61 and 5-38) was the star performer, playing a typical captain’s part. But rival skipper Chris Nicholls (4-26) almost won it for his team.