The ECB National Club Championship first round took place on Sunday with the majority of the 120 matches going ahead, in stark contrast to this time last season when every round-one match was called off due to rain.
Two double-hundreds dominated the batting performances in the north and south of the country. In Middlesex, Winchmore Hill's Scott Newman, the ex-Surrey, Middlesex and Kent player, hit an unbeaten 229 from 145 balls, including 23 fours and seven sixes, in their total of 406 for four against Buckhurst Hill of the Essex Premier League. In reply, Buckhurst Hill managed 242 for nine but lost by 164 runs.
Meanwhile in York, Oliver Hairs, who produced match-winning performances in the semi-final and final last season, continued his love of this competition with an explosive 208 not out from just 92 balls with 15 fours and 14 sixes. Hairs came to the crease at 120 for one and dominated the strike as the home team reached 409 for three from 45 overs against Beverley. The York & District League opponents were then dismissed for just 91 to result in a massive 318-run victory for the reigning champions.
Elsewhere, Julian Russell carried his bat to 161 not out as his Colchester & East Essex team scored 299 for six against Southgate. The reply was going well until captain Faisal Mir was injured while batting, having to retire hurt on 56, and the Middlesex League side struggled to 230 all out.
There were also match-winning batting performances by Alderley Edge's Alan Day (126*), Bootle's Michael Gill (124*) and Southport & Brikdale's Logan Weston, whose 120 not out helped secure a narrow four-run victory against Leigh, that were among 20 centuries scored on Sunday, including by Brentwood's Gareth James (121) and James Redwood (100).
It was not just the batsmen who had the best of it in the first round, with bowlers also taking centre stage around the country. East Grinstead's Lewis Hatchett took 6-10 from 8.3 overs as they dismissed Kent Premier League side Sibton Park for just 97, East Grinstead winning by eight wickets.
Neil Turk from Wimbledon produced an excellent all-round performance; after opening the batting and hitting 29 he went on to produce bowling figures of 6-14 from six overs as the reigning Surrey Championship and ECB National Club t20 champions beat Uxbridge by 78 runs.
Mark Lawson was another bowler to take six wickets as his Hanging Heaton side from the Bradford League comfortably beat Steeton of the Airedale & Wharfdale League in Yorkshire by 125 runs.
It was a family affair in South Wales as Sully Centurions’ Ryan and Jamie Sylvester won the game for the home side against Chippenham. Batting first, Chippenham were dismissed for 100 thanks to bowling from Ryan (4-23 from eight overs) and Jamie (5-7 from 5.3 overs) before Ryan hit an unbeaten 64 from just 38 balls for a nine-wicket win as the South Wales Premier League side booked a home second-round tie against Bristol.
There were a total of 11 five- or six-wicket hauls in the first round matches with all but two of these performances helping their team to victory.
For a full list of the results from the ECB National Club Championship first round matches, please click here http://ecb.play-cricket.com/scoreboard/results.asp. The second round will take place on Sunday 12 May.