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Saturday’s top of the Premier Division table clash with Newcastle was always going to be a tense affair & so it proved. After overnight rain, a 1245 start became possible. Losing the toss Newcastle were asked to bat. Alasdair Appleby & Ben McGee started steadily on a helpful wicket, reaching 32 before Appleby was well caught low down to his left by w/k Rob Peyton in Calum MacLeod’s first over, the 14th. 

Durham batsman Craig Steel showed positive intent only to be undone by exceptional bounce for 21 with the score on 60, caught by Simon Birtwisle at second slip, also off MacLeod. One ball later, in Lee Crozier’s third over, McGee was wonderfully caught left handed by Marcus North at first slip. Jaques Du Toit joined Joshua Philippe, who had started with three fluent boundaries. At 74 in the 25th over Crozier bowled the dangerous Du Toit with one that hit the top of off stump. Straightbreaks strikes again !! 74-4 after 26 overs.

Lunch was taken, the heavens opened & play was not possible until 1645 & only then thanks to the sterling efforts of Groundsman Craig Thompson, persistently water hogging the sheets that covered the square & the willingness of umpires & both teams to play.

A reduced overs game of 40/36 ensued. Newcastle continued steadily & had reached 114 when Sean Tindale was held by a diving Adam Cragg at midwicket off Crozier for 6 & in the next over Philippe was lbw to a full pitched delivery from Jonny Wightman for a well constructed  31, 121-6. Robust batting by Oliver McGee (19*) & Sam  Roseby (16*) took 29 off the last four overs for Newcastle to conclude on 150-6. Wickets for Crozier 3-43, MacLeod 2-28, Wightman 1-55 but an equally important contribution from Stephen Humble who conceded only 20 from 10 accurate overs. The fielding was impressive despite the concession of a 7, the first that many had seen.

Birtwisle & North again batted positively & had reached 22 when Birty fell pulling to mid on. North then got one that lifted to be caught by w/k Philippe for 15, 29-2 in the 9th. John Graham joined Calum MacLeod & the two put on 56 sensible runs, watchful against Oli McGee who bowled 8 overs for only 18, before MacLeod was held at first slip off Du Toit, reverse sweeping, for 37.

John Graham’s excellent 39 came to an end edging to Philippe off Du Toit & almost immediately Cragg, in seeking to accelerate, was stumped off Appleby for 5, 112 for 5 off 31 overs. Stephen Humble joined Rob Peyton with 5 overs to go needing 21 for a winning draw. Only 5 off two overs put the pressure on, but clean hitting by Peyton saw 11 off the 34th, despite Humble’s stumping off Du Toit for 5, & 14 off the 35th including three boundaries off the pacy Calum Harding, so that when the last over began, 6 were needed for an improbable win.

Two singles from the first two deliveries, a dot & then, to the cheers of the home support, Jonny Craigs struck a boundary off Du Toit to long on, a win with two balls remaining in the game !!!  Rob Peyton’s 32* from only 14 balls a match winning contribution ! 22 points & a 57 point lead at the top of the Premier Division with 7 games to go.

The journey continues on Saturday 29th July away to Eppleton & on Sunday 30th July, SN represent the NEPL in the Area T20 finals day at York’s Shipton Road ground against Barnard Castle from 1300. The other semi finalists are York & Bradford & Bingley. A coach leaves Central Park gates at 0900 prompt. A very few seats are bookable via Gillian Usher 0191 2460006 for a £10/head return. Another exciting day in prospect.

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