AFTER Durham’s top-order famine came the feast, with a sumptuous Mark Stoneman century providing the main course, only for rain to spoil the equation.
Durham were on 275 for four, leading Yorkshire by 335, when the darkening skies forced a suspension at 5pm with 18 overs still to be bowled on the third day at Chester-le- Street.
Paul Collingwood would have wanted at least an extra 20 runs, but when play resumed with seven overs to be bowled he had made a bold declaration, possibly influenced by the forecast of rain this morning.
Yorkshire’s Joe Root and Adam Lyth survived a couple of good lbw appeals from Graham Onions to reach 17 without loss at the close.
Stoneman’s fifth first-class century was his first at home in the championship since his maiden ton in late 2007 against Sussex.
The 25-year-old left-handed opener made 109 after reaching his century off 141 balls with ten fours and a six. This was earmarked as an important season for Stoneman, who has been carefully nurtured since his debut six years ago.
He was unable to command a regular place until Michael Di Venuto retired in mid-season last year and, after learning much from the Tasmanian, Stoneman took on his squad number of 23 and inherited the role of senior opener.
On a good pitch, only Will Smith and Ben Stokes missed the boat as Jennings made 48, Dale Benkenstein an unbeaten 61 and Collingwood was on 36 when the rain came.
Yorkshire had the misfortune to field in a biting wind and Ryan Sidebottom didn’t appear to relish it. But Liam Plunkett improved greatly on his first-day efforts in taking two for 49 in 16 overs.
Leg-spinner Adil Rashid also had the long bowl he clearly needs, but although he improved and often turned his googly, he had two catches dropped and finished with none for 81 in 22 overs.
Stoneman began by cutting Sidebottom’s third ball for four as the opening over yielded seven runs and after two successive golden ducks Jennings was able to watch the first ball he faced pass harmlessly by.
Stoneman then drove Tim Bresnan’s second ball to the extra cover boundary and was dropped behind the stumps off the fifth.
Bresnan’s second over cost nine runs, and although most were scored slightly streakily between gully and fourth slip they helped to settle the Durham openers’ nerves.
Jennings played some nice shots through the off side in reaching 34 out of 84 at lunch.
He fell when he tried to cut Bresnan and edged to Bairstow, then off the final ball of the same over Smith edged a low catch to Root at third slip.
Benkenstein almost went the same way before he had scored, but once he was under way he began to look like his old reassuring self.
Having reached 50 straight after lunch, Stoneman pulled Steve Patterson for six and took advantage of Rashid tending to bowl a long hop every over.
Two pulled fours off the legspinner took Stoneman to 99 then he cut a single to point to complete his century.
Durham obviously wanted to crack on and after Stoneman edged Plunkett to first slip Ben Stokes went for his shots. But after being dropped at deep mid-wicket by Phil Jaques off Rashid he became Plunkett’s second victim when he edged to Bairstow.
Benkenstein reached 50 off 81 balls and he and Collingwood had put on 68 when the rain arrived.
The possibility of rain this morning may have forced his hand in deciding to declare, but if it stays away it promises to be a fascinating final day.
Durham v Yorkshire
At Emirates Durham ICG.
Overnight: Durham 237 (P Mustard 70; T T
Bresnan 4-41). Yorkshire 177(G Onions 5-
Durham Second Innings
M D Stoneman c Ballance b Plunkett ...109
K K Jennings c Bairstow b Bresnan ......48
W R Smith c Root b Bresnan ................ 4
D M Benkenstein not out ...................61
B A Stokes c Bairstow b Plunkett ......... 7
P D Collingwood not out ....................36
Extras (b4 lb6 pens 0) .............10
Total 4 wkts dec (78 overs)....275
Fall: 1-123 2-127 3-195 4-207
Did Not Bat: P Mustard, S G Borthwick, C D
Thorp, C Rushworth, G Onions.
Bowling: Sidebottom 9-2-23-0. Bresnan 16-
3-70-2. Patterson 10-1-38-0. Plunkett 16-4-
49-2. A U Rashid 22-1-81-0. Root 5-2-4-0.
Yorkshire Second Innings Close
A Lyth not out .................................... 9
J E Root not out ................................. 6
Extras (nb2 pens 0) ...................2
Total 0 wkts (7 overs)...............17
To Bat: P A Jaques, A W Gale, J M Bairstow,
G S Ballance, T T Bresnan, L E Plunkett, A
U Rashid, R J Sidebottom, S A Patterson
Bowling: Onions 4-1-10-0. Rushworth 3-0-