AN amazing innings by Giles Smith went unrewarded as Stockton & Hopgrove crashed to defeat at North Cave on the opening day of the HPH York Vale Cricket League season.

In the only first division game to beat the rain, Stockton looked well-placed at 116-3 for a big total with the dominant Smith (92) at the crease. Despite batting on a damp, but drying wicket, Smith smashed eight sixes and six fours before being the fourth wicket to fall.

His dismissal triggered a major collapse as Stockton were bowled out for 132 in 33.1 overs. Mike Stellings (55no) and Charlie Cockin (53no) shared an unbeaten stand of 104 to see Cave home by nine wickets.

Last season’s runners-up Bishopthorpe had a lucky escape as Fulfordgate seemed poised for victory when a heavy downpour brought a premature end.

Scott Clapham struck 50 as the Bishops reached 92-2 in 21 overs but Gate wicketkeeper Liam Hancey shed his gloves to join the attack, taking 4-12 as Bishopthorpe lost eight wickets for the addition of just 37 runs. Hancey then made 40 as Fulfordgate were left needing just 29 to win with seven wickets and nine overs remaining when the heavens opened.

All other top flight matches were abandoned without a ball being bowled and the only game to survive in division two saw Ben Johnson win by seven wickets at Hirst Courtney. Damon White (42) top-scored in the hosts’ 113-9 but 42 from Steve Wragg and an unbeaten 37 by Paul Anderson guided the printers to victory.

Malton & Old Malton were sent spinning to a crushing 10-wicket defeat at the hands of Wheldrake slow bowler Mark Cass in division three.

Despite going for ten runs in his first over, Cass finished with 6-21 as Malt were shot out for 61. Les Fearn (32no) and skipper Martin Lambert (20no) knocked off the runs in 14 overs.

Farath Ansar (79no) powered Acomb to a seven-wicket win at Dunnington who were bowled out for 155, teenagers Jack Spofforth (56) and Daniel Andrew (46) being the main contributors. Despite three wickets for James Hall, Ansar teamed up with Freddie Littlewood (35no) to earn Acomb victory.

Last season’s leading league wicket-taker Granville North got straight back into the groove with 4-9 as Hemingbrough swept out Bishopthorpe II for 71. Rob Peet then cracked an unbeaten 52 as Hemingbrough won by eight wickets.

Ovington III made a dream start in their first Vale League game, thrashing Thorpe Willoughby II by 149 runs in division four.

Despite 4-44 from Aftab Gul, Jeremy Fowke cracked 38 from 28 deliveries as Ovington totalled 180. Thorpe’s reply was disastrous with no batsman making double figures as they were skittled for just 31 – a dozen of those being extras.

Newcomers Tadcaster Magnet found the going tough as their young side were bowled out for 100 in pursuit of Stamford Bridge’s 181-7 which featured 68 from Des Healey in a second-wicket stand of 84 with Neil Porteous. Callum Burge also took 4-29 for Bridge.

Press Performance of the Week

Giles Smith’s lightning 92 for Stockton & Hopgrove against North Cave in division one.