Lincolnshire CCC travelled to Jesmond, Newcastle, to play Northumberland in their penultimate Unicorns Eastern Division match of the season, knowing that victory together with maximum batting and bowling points would put them in with a great chance of securing the Eastern Division title for the second successive season.
Lincs recalled Louis Kimber, and Conrad Louth returned for his first game of the season, replacing the unavailable Sam Wood and Matt Carter.
On winning the toss, Lincs elected to bat first and Kimber and Dan Freeman put on 60 for the first wicket before the former was adjudged lbw for 27. Matt Lineker then joined Freeman in a stand of 106 before Freeman fell for a fine 82.
Louth then joined Lineker in a stand of 93 before Louth was dismissed for 49. These two stands had given Lincs the foundations for a huge first innings total. This appeared to have been thwarted, however, when the innings collapsed somewhat from 259 for three to 314 for eight, Lineker’s fine 107 being the backbone of the innings at this stage.
At this point, the prospect of maximum batting points was in some doubt. After the tea interval, the match swung dramatically in Lincs’ favour. In less than 10 overs, Ross Dixon and Alex Willerton added 107 for the ninth wicket, Dixon hitting 12 fours and four sixes in a superb 84 not out, Lincs being finally all out for 421 with maximum batting points secured.
Northumberland’s innings collapsed dramatically and by close of play on day one they had slumped to 61 for six, Andy Carter, Dominic Brown, Willerton and Freeman all taking wickets. On the morning of day two, Lincs pressed home their advantage and quickly dismissed the hosts for 93, Andy Carter with three for 28 being the chief wicket taker.
Lincs, leading by 328, enforced the follow-on. Northumberland again lost an early wicket but showed significant resistance. James Thompson (38) and Alex Simpson (42) added 70 for their second wicket and Jacques du Toit (76) and Jack Jessop (23) put on 65 for the fourth, before Brown secured the vital wicket of du Toit.
Sean Tindale, Bradley Yates and Oliver McGee added useful scores but this was all to no avail as shortly before 5.30pm the hosts were all out for 297. Carter with four for 54 was again Lincs’ most successful bowler.
Lincs won by an innings and 31 runs, taking a maximum 24 points from the match with Northumberland taking four points. The victory, together with results elsewhere, took Lincs 18 points clear of second placed Staffordshire.
Lincs’ final three day fixture is at Cleethorpes next Sunday (August 13, 11am) when their opponents will be Hertfordshire. The home county needs seven points from that fixture to win the Eastern Division for the second successive season.