Cup win for Richmondshire but league challenge slips away

Richmondshire went into Saturday’s game against Darlington needing a win to go second in the league and with an outside chance of overhauling leaders Saltburn.

Having chosen to bat Richmondshire lost captain Bob Carr with 14 on the board but Gary Pratt (58) and Mike Layfield (77) then put on 124 for the second wicket.

A change of bowlers then slowed the run rate and started to frustrate the Richmondshire batsmen. Mike and Gary were out within two runs and despite a typically aggressive knock from Connor Blaxall-Hill (23) progress was slow. Things weren’t helped by a rain interruption and Richmondshire were 171 for 6 before Brandon Glover had his best innings of the season to score 33 and in partnership with Dan Baines (16*) put on 48.

Richmondshire’s 50 overs came to an end with the score 226 for 7. The rain interruption resulted in a Duckworth Lewis target being set at 184 from 34 overs. Things started well with a wicket for Brandon Glover with seven on the board and despite 48 from former Richmondshire junior Nathan Wright, with the score 118 for five in the twenty fifth over the chances of Darlington reaching the target looked remote.

At that point with nothing to lose Darlington went on the attack and the Richmondshire bowlers lost control with 46 runs coming from six overs. Particularly frustrating was that 17 runs had been conceded in wides.

With only seven points gained and Saltburn having won there was now little chance of top spot and the gap on second place Hartlepool, who had no game, wasn’t significantly closed.

Sunday was the 100 finals day at the Billingham Synthonia ground. Heavy downpours had disrupted games earlier in the day and there was some surprise that the pitch was declared fir for the Richmondshire Stokesley game at 5pm.

Stokesley won the toss and put Richmondshire in. Mike Layfield made 11 from nine balls before being out with the score at 14 for one. Gary Pratt continued his excellent form and made 47 not out, his partnership with Connor Blaxall-Hill (14) adding 44. Three wickets fell for seven runs before Sam Wood (14) joined Gary to add 52 in a critical partnership and give Rich 120 from their 100 balls.

In his first spell Josh Dowson claimed the wicket of Stokesley captain James Weighell for 6. Shaun Charlton (two for 18) having a rare outing for the 1sts then claimed two wickets to make the score 39 for three. Sam Wood (two for 15) took the valuable wicket of former county player James Weighell for 26 but the Stokesley middle order batsmen all made valuable runs.

The Richmondshire bowlers again contributed to their own problems with 18 wides and with 10 balls remaining 25 were needed. 18 in 5 balls meant that 7 were needed from the final over bowled by Josh Dowson (four for 22), who became the hero of the hour with three wickets including a run out from the final ball.

Stokesley ended three short and having reached three finals had lost them all.

Monday saw the traditional local derby at Barnard Castle, a win desperately needed to keep league hopes alive. Barnard Castle won the toss and chose to bat and made a solid start to reach 49 for one before Josh Dowson (three for 42) dismissed ex Richmondshire player James Clarkson. He then removed two of the main batting threats Australian amateur Harry Austin and professional Karl Carver to make the score 66 for three. Opener Finn had made 54 before he was dismissed by Jonnny Carr (one for 29). Sam Wood (two for 33) dismissed captain James Quinn caught and bowled and Brandon Glover (four for 48) returned two wickets from the first three balls of his second spell.

Another wicket from Sam Wood and two more from Brandon Glover then quickly wrapped up the innings with Barnard Castle all out for 171 in 38.4 overs.

Barnard Castle had limited bowling options forcing the first two bowlers to ball long spells and they felt luck had deserted them as they beat the bat without finding an edge and a couple of catches went down.

A touch of luck was what Bob Carr needed to find his form after a bad run and went on to score an excellent 65. He was outdone by opening partner Gary Pratt who made his century with a six for the winning runs. The highlight of the game was his battle with spinner Karl Carver causing him to play and miss at least once an over but Gary responding by hitting him for six. Gary’s hundred came from 97 balls and included 10 fours and five sixes.

25 points moved Richmondshire up to second 18 points ahead of Hartlepool, who surprisingly lost to Bishop Auckland. A win for Saltburn confirms them as champions and Richmondshire now require eight points from their final game next week to be sure of second place.

The other Richmondshire teams had a barren week with the 2nds again defeated losing by 31 to Wolviston. The 3rds had no game, the 4ths were rained off after 19 overs and the 5ths were forced to concede with a lack of players due to holidays.