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Smith slaps Surrey in stunning Riverside knock
WILL Smith brought down the curtain on Durham's one-day season yesterday with a performance the like of which has never been seen before.
The 30-year-old former captain has not been a regular in the one-day side in recent years, but he launched an astonishing blitz against Surrey which took him from 50 to 120 not out in 27 balls.
Durham were labouring on 112 for five in the 23rd over of the YB 40 match at Chester-le-Street when Smith was joined by Gordon Muchall. But they took the total to 275 without being parted, which was enough for a 133-run win.
It was a pity that it was a meaningless match, with Durham's chances of semi-final qualification having ended on the rogue pitch at Derby.
But that didn't matter to the sun-baked Bank Holiday crowd with Smith clearing the ropes five times as he and Gordon Muchall took an incredible 101 runs off the last seven overs. The stand of 163 was a sixth-wicket record for Durham in one-day cricket.
Smith has been in good form recently, making 53 out of 138 all out in the YB 40 defeat at Chelmsford and 87 in last week's championship match against Surrey. No-one suspected he was capable of this kind of onslaught, although he said: "In my wildest dreams I thought I could do it.
"I'm often in at the end of an innings trying to score a run a ball, but today I had plenty of time to get set. I felt confident I could step it up at the end."
After taking 52 balls to reach his half-century his second 50 came off only 21 and only Phil Mustard has made a faster hundred for Durham.
Smith's one previous one-day century was 103 in a 50-over Friends Provident Trophy match against Worcestershire in 2007.
Most of the sixes were lifted to the long-on area, although the biggest was pulled behind square, and there was also some audacious improvisation.
Inbetween making room to swat Tim Linley over the off-side fielders for three fours in 37th over he also stepped across to the off side to scoop a straight ball just short of the rope at fine leg.
Surrey fielded several youngsters and George Edwards looked lively with the new ball, having Mustard caught at second slip in the second over for a duck.
But when he returned during the batting powerplay he conceded 18 off the 36th over, which was when the real savagery began as 81 came off the last five overs.
It was all the more extraordinary because Durham's innings had stagnated after acting captain Mark Stoneman hit six fours in scoring 31 off 25 balls.
The only boundary between the 17th and 30th overs resulted from a misfield at deep mid-wicket.
Zafar Ansari, a 21-year-old left-arm spinner, conceded only 16 in his first five overs, but then Muchall made room to drive him through cover point for four and Smith hit him for six over long-on as the floodgates opened.
Muchall matched Smith in reaching 50 off 52 balls, but was content to let his partner have the strike in the last few overs and remained unbeaten on 52.
Despite the crucial championship match starting at Scarborough tomorrow, Durham ignored the opportunity to rest key men like Paul Collingwood and Chris Rushworth.
At 37, Collingwood is showing signs of his age but is invaluable for his leadership in the four-day game. He had only just got to the crease yesterday when the whippet-like Scott Borthwick called him for a risky single.
Collingwood scrambled home but seemed to spend the next ten minutes in some discomfort as a result of the exertion. He hit only one four in making 29 off 44 balls before chipping Gareth Batty to mid-on and he didn't take the field. The substitute, Michael Richardson, held three catches.
If anyone was going to make 120 Ben Stokes would have been the most likely candidate, but after scoring six he played down the wrong line and lost his off stump to 18-year-old Tom Curran.
He wasn't the youngest in the Surrey side, although Dominic Sibley, who has played for England Under 19s two years early, is a big lad for his age.
While those who are more than twice as old, Vikram Solanki and Zander de Bruyn, surrendered tamely to Borthwick, Sibley battled to hold the Surrey innings together in only his second senior appearance.
He made 37 before chipping Gareth Breese to wide mid-on and at 76 for five in the 19th over Surrey needed someone to do a Smith.
Rory Burns lifted Borthwick over square leg for six and holed at long-on off the next ball as the leg-spinner enjoyed his most profitable spell for some time, finishing with three for 41.
There were also four easy wickets for Breese as Surrey folded for 142 in 30.4 overs.
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