THERE were five centuries in the ECB Premier League on Saturday, the most significant being part of a record-breaking all-round performance which helped pull Bowdon back into the driving seat.
Lancashire 2nd XI skipper Gary Yates has played a key role in Bowdon's success over two seasons, but he had never before delivered to the extent of scoring 100 not out, then following up with a superb off-spin stint of 8-18. This ended the South Downs club's brief stutter and earned them a 95-runs victory over Alderley Edge and a 20-points lead.
Alderley's bowlers were hammered by Yates and Jon Bean (76) in a big third-wicket part-nership as Bowdon tallied 259-5. Edge's batsmen were then put under the hammer and apart from the experienced Mark Currie (45) and Steve O'Shaughnessey (42no), they had no answer to Yates' 15-over spell and were all out for 164. Yates now has 493 runs and 35 wickets.
Another match-winning ton came from the educated bat of Stan Clifford, his unbeaten 117 helping Neston to an eight-wickets win at Bramhall to move into second place. Bramhall again topped the 200 mark, thanks to the ever-reliable Andy Hall with a majestic 101, which makes him the division's top scorer with 584 runs. Dave Jones was the Neston key wicket taker with 4-65.
Mike Reed hit 122 to help Macclesfield amass 262-8 against Urmston, Mike Allen supporting him with 68. After improved performances in recent weeks, Urmston gave a poor response of 132, of which Gary Saunders scored 29. Mike Hillaby kept up his excellent run with a 5-72 return and is now the division's top wicket taker with 36 victims.
Oxton stretched the gap above the bottom two to a significant 24 points when they held out for a tight draw at Hyde. The Werneth Low batsmen improved their technique with a tally of 241-6 (Raj Singh 67no, James Duffy 63, John Ashley 55). Oxton's last pair were together at 176-9 at stumps, Malcolm Doggart 51. Rob Brierley claimed 4-49 and promising teenage spinners Danny Berry took 3-43.
* Widnes conceded the league's last unbeaten record when Poynton won by three wickets in the final over of a fine first division game at Beaconsfield Road. Widnes stay four points clear.
Aussie left-hander Adam Landry took his seasonal tally to 655 with an unbeaten 101 in Widnes' 215-4 declared at halfway. Poynton went flat out for victory, despite losing wickets, and David Watkins capped an unbeaten 81 with the winning runs off the first ball of the 50th, aided by Damien Stringer's 51, while Bappa Mukherjee took 4-86.
Winnington Park went third with a 10-wickets win at Warrington, where they chased 172 (James Hughes 53, Craig Little 4-66). A superb unbroken partnership between Paul Sinclair (82) and James Lewis (71) sealed it.
Congleton had to be content with 16 points from a winning draw against Heaton Mersey, now eight points adrift at the bottom. Paul Mitchell scored 88 in Congleton's 212-6 and Mersey battled it out to close at 125-7 (Tim Humpage 33), Steve Farr winding up a good day with 4-49 to add to his 30 runs.
Richard Hardstaff scored exactly 100 in Toft's 256-6 against Alsager at Booths Park (Jamie Noble 50no, James Warrington 4-103). Alsager reached 219-7 (Paul Pickford 87, Manoy Roy 5-43).
Cheadle Hulme beat Brooklands by seven wickets after restricting their visitors to 154-9 (Mike Cassidy 47, Malcolm Woods 4-29, Ewan McCray 4-42). Adam Wilde's 69no and 44 from Nick Murrills saw Hulme through.
Grappenhall had the better of a draw against Upton after scoring 176-8 (Will Sharp 72no, Keith Jones 4-67). Lee Dixon's 65 helped Upton close at 156-8.
* Birkenhead Park, perhaps temporarily, saw off the promotion challenge of Bollington in Division Two with a four-wickets home win, their fifth in six games. Chris Stenhouse took 3-34 and Gareth Evans 3-39 to dismiss Bollington for 157 (Kevin Waterhouse 48). Park went on to pocket 25 points with a return of 158-6 (Damon Livermore 47, Stenhouse 42no).
A good all-round performances by Xavier Marshall enabled Sale to pocket a maximum 17 draw points at Bredbury. Jamaican Marshall scored an unbeaten 88 in Sale's 241-9 and Bredbury replied with 217-9 (Chris Wood 45, Marshall 3-58).
Cheadle beat Mobberley by six wickets after restricting their visitors to 168 (Waqar Ahmed 62). Cheadle coasted home at 172-4 (Roger Nicholson 35).
Marple are mid-table with a seven-wickets win at Stockport Georgians, who batted well enough to declare at 187-6 (Nick Tyers 43). Fine batting by Steve Smith (64) and Garry Cash (55no) powered Marple home.