For once the start of the cricket season was favored with the sort of weather that made playing and watching cricket a pleasure but sadly the Richmondshire 1st XI’s bid to retain the Premier League title didn’t go well.
There have been a number of changes to the line up over the closed season. Craig Marshall, always a regular wicket taker accepted the offer to become the English professional at newly promoted Darlington and Matty Cowling has returned to his hometown club of Bishop Auckland. Dale Marshall, Craig’s brother has rejoined the club from Darlington RA, Jamie Stead has also returned after several years playing in the Oxford area and Jonny Pears has been recruited from Brancepath in the Durham league.
There has also been a change in the overseas professional with Shafiqullah Ghafary having just a couple of days to acclimatise to English conditions after arriving from Afghanistan.
Having been put into bat the Richmondshire innings got off to a disastrous start with Bob Carr falling for a duck third ball of the innings. Tom Dowson and Jamie Stead made a strong recovery putting on 67 for the second wicket.
When Stead fell for 20 Gary Pratt joined Tom Dowson to add a further 54 before Dowson was out for 56.
Three more wickets then fell in quick succession.
With Gray Pratt going on to score 41 not out and with Josh Dowson and Dale Marshall both adding a couple of sixes in the last few overs Richmondshire ended on what looked a respectable score of 194 for seven after their 50 overs.
Things looked promising when Josh Dowson took two early wickets to have Stokesley 14 for two but the Richmondshire attack struggled to make any further impact. Dale Marshall struck to make the total 54 for three but a stand of 77 saw Stokesley close in on the Richmondshire total.
A couple of wickets for Ghafari as he adjusted to English conditions in his second spell gave some hope but Stokesley completed a four wicket win in the 46th over.
The 2nd XI started with a tough fixture against newly relegated Marske. The side is largely made up of young players who have progressed through the clubs Junior system with the experience of long serving wicket keeper Kevin Forbes, Richie Carruthers and Mark Lockey who has returned to the club after several years at Rockcliffe Park.
The youthful pace attack featured all three Percival brothers for the first time and Jake struck with two early wickets to have Marske on four for two. A stand of 99 took the score to 103 for three before the next wicket fell to captain Sam Winter. Max, youngest of the Percival brothers, then took two wickets before the third brother Alex joined in to take another. Harvey Websdale then proceeded to mop up the tail taking the final three wickets, Marske ending on 171 all out.
The Richmondshire innings got off to a poor start with Alex Percival lbw for three. Mark Lockey showed his experience and dug in to score 26 and in partnership with captain Sam Winter put on 49 for the second wicket.
In an excellent captain’s inning Sam made 74 before being bowled when only two more were needed for victory.
With 172 for six Richmondshire took the 25 points and now face the other relegated side Normanby Hall next week.
At Richmond School the 4thXI played their first game in the NYSD Division 3 having gained promotion last season. Putting opponents Rockcliffe Park 2nds in to bat opening bowlers Michael Platt and Gareth Wood took a wicket apiece but it was the arrival of Julius Glasgow in the attack that did the damage.
In a ten over spell Julius took five for five. With father of the Percival clan Andy taking two at the close Rockcliffe were bowled out for 92 in 31.3 overs.
With Harrison Girot scoring 29 and Griffin Bewell 20 not out plus 14 extras contributed by Rockcliife Richmondshire made 93 for 4, getting their start in the new division off to a great start with 25 points.
On Sunday the 3rds travelled to Darlington. Electing to bat their total 129 all out owed a lot to Alex Percival with 42, John Clark being the only other batsmen to reach double figures with 14.
This modest total wasn’t enough to trouble Darlington and despite two wickets each for Mark Walker and Max Percival they went on to win by six wickets ending with 132 for four.