We travelled to South North knowing they needed a victory to stay top of the league with Gateshead Fell is hot pursuit. The team showed a number of changes with Joe Anderson and Joe Torre stepping back from the first team duty and Hayden Mustard not keeping and showing his versatility as an all-rounder, to give us another seam option. The weather had taken a turn for the better and the sun was beating down and it looked a good toss to break the sequence of 5 consecutive lost tosses. Thankfully we did break the sequence and won the toss and elected to bat. South North started brightly and the new ball pairing of Doig and Paton bowled well and runs were hard to come by. They were rewarded when they removed the usually fluent Moore LBW for 14. The change bowlers offered more scoring options as we upped the scoring rate before losing Hynd for 37, in the 18th over with the score on 89. Fletcher followed soon after and the innings was in the balance at 127/3, with plenty of overs left to bat. This brought together Anderson (28*) and Mustard who played with a good balance of aggression and sense, Anderson in particular punishing the spinners when the strayed offline. Anderson soon passed 50 and was cruising towards a century before being dropped on 84, this seemed to focus Anderson who then reset and passed his 100. Anderson and Mustard set their and the team’s sights on a 300+ score as the South North bowlers started to tire in the heat. Mustard also started to open up, running well and punished anything short he also used the “reverse” wisely to manipulate the field and soon passed his second league 50 of the season and we still had 5 overs to go. Mustard then perished in the 48th over for a well-made 64 from 72 balls and Anderson was out not long after for a tremendous 146 from 115 balls. Aatif 15* from 10 and Dawson 6* from 3 balls arrived at the crease and continued to punish the South North bowling as we finished on 317/5 in our 50 overs.
We knew a strong start was required to press home the advantage and although South North started well at 38/0, a flurry of wickets took the steam out of South North who were now struggling at 49/5, with Kilpatrick (3) and Jones and Torre 1 each doing the damage. At this point we lost our way somewhat and in the face of some good striking from Sadiq, we were glad to have a water break at 25 overs as the sun continued to shine. We returned after the break and Safi came on and removed the stubborn opener Ragbir (30), which left South North 143/6. The eccentric Sadiq was next to fall for a well struck 68 from 53 balls to a good catch by Torre off Jones and South North were now 147/7. Safi continued to bowl well and picked up 2 of the last 3 wickets before the returning Torre bowled the last man for 2 and South North were all out for 170. The wickets were once again well spread with Kilpatrick 3-30, Jones 2-47, Torre 2-38 and Safi 3-28 picking up the wickets. Overall, a very good performance with bat and ball on a very hot day, which leaves us needing a handful of points from the last 2 matches to mathematically win the league, with Sacriston (a) and Washington (h) the final 2 matches.