EVERYONE was sweating buckets at Swalwell on Saturday – but not one drop was caused by the evening sunshine.
Instead, players and supporters of their respective sides were gripped by the high intensity of a fascinating duel between Swalwell – champions for the past four years – and strugglers Ashington, which went down to the wire before Jason Dumighan stroked the ball through mid-wicket to record the decisive single which led the home side to a two-wicket victory.
The stakes were high, and none more so than when Stephen Boyd bowled Gray in the 27th over as Swalwell then required 11 runs to win; the Colliers two wickets.
Defeat was particularly tough on an Ashington side who had defied the odds and came so close to pulling off the unlikeliest of wins.
And defeat was also tough on Boyd, who bowled a magnificent 15 overs unchanged, taking 6-31, and batsman Simon Prudhoe, who battled valiantly to top score with 62.
Put into bat, Ashington struggled and Jack Jessop was an early casualty, caught by Paul Dumighan off Gary Johnson.
Greg Williams departed after getting an edge, then Johnson was on a hat-trick after trapping Dale Ross lbw first ball.
Ashington’s problems continued to mount up as Boyd skied the ball to Paul Dumighan and Martin Sexton followed suit.
Prudhoe collected a deserved half century with the score at 72-5, but the return of Pattison saw skipper Michael Thewlis and Craig Wood caught behind before Graham Whitworth’s off stump was removed.
With Prudhoe running out of partners he was caught by Shotton off Phillips.
Then in the next over, Callum Storey, who had stroked a couple of nice drives, also fell with the innings closing on 96.
Swalwell made a cautious start but after punishing the occasional bad ball, had reached 27 when a mini flurry of wickets left then on their heels.
Anderson was the first to go, caught by Williams at mid-on; Paul Dumighan was next, edging to Dale Ross, then Ian Pattison’s bat dislodged the bail.
Crucially, James Welch and Michael Clarke added 31 for the fourth wicket before the never-say-die Colliers came to the fore again.
Boyd broke the stand with Welch snicking behind to Ross, then Hughes fell to a low catch by Sexton four balls later.
Clarke was well pocketed by Williams in the 23rd also off Boyd, but at 75-6, there was a brief interlude due to rain.
When play resumed, Phillips was caught in Whitworth’s second over off a bat/pad chance which lobbed into the air and was pouched by Ross with the score on 81.
Five runs later, Boyd yorked Gray on 86-8 before Jason Dumighan and Johnson settled the outcome in Swalwell’s favour.
Swalwell 20 points
Ashington 4 points
In midweek, Scott Dunn led Ashington home in their Smithson Cup match against premier side Tynemouth at Langwell Crescent.
The right handed batsman fired five fours and two sixes in a brilliant unbeaten 69 as the Colliers won off the last ball.
Chasing 129, Dunn and Jack Jessop had taken 41 off the first ten overs – leaving their side 90 from the last ten.
Jessop went for 25 and although support came from Martin Sexton (18), the odds were stacked against the Colliers who required 27 off the last two overs.
But Dunn took 13 of the 14 runs from the penultimate over by Barry Stewart then from the last after skipper Michael Thewlis had nudged a two and a single, Dunn smashed a six from the fifth ball and with two needed, clinched the match in style with a boundary.