Season Finale — Stokesley vs Barnard Castle
With the sweetest of cover drives for four, Rob Dixon completed Barnard Castle’s historic season in style on Saturday. It secured a four wicket win against Stokesley and confirmed that Barney had won the NYSD Premier Division title by a whopping 43 points.
If Dixon, largely unsung but invaluable in the campaign’s latter stages, fully deserved his moment of glory, it was the batsman at the other end who had shaped and guided the side’s season and finished it in the grandest fashion.
Captain James Finch made a resolute, crisp 75no, coming in as the innings was tottering and determined that nothing would spoil the party which had started a week earlier when Barney were crowned champions. Stokesley, seriously threatened with relegation, fought like tigers but Finch, playing more fluently than he had all summer, was not to be denied.
He had insisted that he and his team would not let standards slip despite having already won the title. There was nothing for it but to lead from the front after Barney found themselves 63 for 4, chasing 193.
Finch cut and pulled deftly, sharing important stands of 37 with Simon Tennant and 79 with Josh Bousfield. Tennant went three runs short of his first half century of the season but his disappointment may have been alleviated by his career best figures of 7–63.
Bousfield’s departure after a fearlessly attacking innings meant that the match ended in high drama. His wicket gave Stokesley their seventh bonus point. With relegation rivals Normanby Hall winning against Guisborough it brought them level on points.
As both teams had the same number of wins they had to be separated by net run rate (runs scored and wickets lost minus runs conceded and wickets taken). It took almost two hours to determine that Stokesley were safe, a popular outcome since they have been bedevilled by misfortune this summer.
By that time, Barney had travelled home, the cheers of the coach load of supporters who had accompanied them still ringing in their ears. They had competed well in the early stages of the match with Stokesley’s accomplished captain, Andrew Weighell desperate to see his side survive.
He scored his fourth hundred of the season (his second against Barney, both unfortunately in a losing cause) as Barney sough to contain him. They were more successful at the other end as Tennant continually induced errors of judgement from the middle order.
Stokesley 192 all out (49.5 overs, A Weighell 100, Jo Weighell 27, S Tennant 7–63, J Finch 2–39), Barnard Castle 196–6 (J Finch 75no, S Tennant 47, J Bousfield 31, A Weighell 3–27)