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Durham take initiative in championship decider
THE Scarborough Festival is not what it used to be. But this is no time for nostalgia – there’s a championship at stake and Durham took the first-day honours through centuries by Mark Stoneman and Ben Stokes.
Skipper Paul Collingwood also carried out his role of providing middle order ballast to perfection as he made an unbeaten 74 in a total of 406 for six, which earned maximum batting points.
For the first time the festival consists only of this fourday game, but there were shades of the halcyon days as thousands flocked to North Marine Road’s atmospheric amphitheatre.
Many would be festival regulars – you can tell them by the way they leave before 6pm just before the gong goes for high tea in their guest houses.
But the diehard numbers were swelled by those wishing to see the country’s top two teams doing battle in the potential title decider.
The official attendance was 5,500 but there appeared to be substantially more and there will not be a bigger crowd anywhere for a day of championship cricket this season.
If they expected a run feast on a glorious day they were not disappointed, but on a belting pitch the likelihood is that the match will be a highscoring draw, which will suit Yorkshire with their 25.5 points lead.
Durham chose to bat and lost two wickets to Ryan Sidebottom in the third over to have their many fans in the crowd suffering palpitations on five for two.
The left-armer also removed Stoneman for 122 – his 600th first-class wicket – but while Steve Patterson bowled with great economy and Jack Brooks occasionally beat the bat Liam Plunkett and Adil Rashid were weak links in the Yorkshire attack.
Sidebottom had figures of 6- 1-14-2 when Plunkett replaced him and if Durham were under any pressure it instantly vanished as he conceded 22 in two overs.
His second spell also lasted only two overs, costing 15 and four leg byes, while Rashid bowled at least one loose ball every over.
Apart from a couple of rushes of blood, Stokes batted with a restraint which suggested he is advancing from the belligerence of youth to a more mature phase in his career.
It has not been an easy transition while concentrating on improving his bowling and this was only his second championship hundred in two years, having made five in the previous two seasons before he was 20.
On 92 he survived a difficult chance to Adam Lyth at slip off Brooks’ fourth ball after tea, but two overs later a punched straight drive for his 14th four off the same bowler took him to 100 off 136 balls.
It was almost certainly the first century he has scored without hitting a six, but after lifting Rashid just short of the whelk stall over mid-wicket he went for a repeat on 127 and hit the ball vertically for Jonny Bairstow to hold the catch.
The day began with Keaton Jennings and Scott Borthwick both being adjudged lbw for nought by former football referee Martin Bodenham, who perhaps felt that on such a batting paradise he ought to favour the bowlers.
The ball which did for Jennings may just have pitched on leg stump and might have swung enough to clip the same pole, but it was marginal.
Borthwick followed two balls later.
Will Smith had faced 31 balls for three before pulling Plunkett dismissively to the mid-wicket boundary and with Stoneman twice driving Patterson through the covers six fours suddenly came in three overs.
Brooks returned in place of Plunkett and snared Smith for 20 when he was brilliantly caught by Kane Williamson low to his right at third slip to end a stand of 62.
Stoneman completed a 70- ball half-century with a slightly risky single to backward point, having hit nine fours.
Durham added 148 in the afternoon, Stoneman hurtling to his hundred after lunch. On 92 he pulled Patterson over square leg for six then cut him for his 19th four to complete a 117-ball century. It was his third of the season and second against Yorkshire.
He was out when he went for a flat-footed cut a foot wide of off stump and edged to Bairstow.
Collingwood got off the mark by smashing a Rashid full toss for four to bring up the 200 just before Stokes reached 50 off 91 balls.
Stokes continued at the same tempo until he hit the first three balls of a new Rashid spell to the boundary.
He showed there was no loss of concentration as he played out a maiden in the leg-spinner’s next over, but once past his hundred his desire to crack on proved his undoing.
An excellent spell by Patterson kept Durham in check after tea until Collingwood straight drove him for four to reach 50 off 106 balls.
When Sidebottom took the new ball he twice beat Phil Mustard, who also edged just over Lyth’s head at second slip before settling in to cruise to 42.
In the day’s penultimate over he recklessly tried to reverse sweep Williamson’s occasional off spin and was lbw, bringing in Michael Richardson.
Durham might well have cause to regret selecting him to bat at eight, rather than taking the bold move of bringing in an extra bowler.
Yorkshire v Durham
At Scarborough. Durham Won Toss
Durham First Innings Close
M D Stoneman c Bairstow b Sidebottom ..122
K K Jennings lbw b Sidebottom ............0
S G Borthwick lbw b Sidebottom ..........0
W R Smith c Williamson b Brooks ......20
B A Stokes c Bairstow b A U Rashid 127
P D Collingwood not out ..................74
P Mustard lbw b Williamson ..............42
M J Richardson not out ......................3
Extras (b4 lb10 nb4 pens 0) 18
Total 6 wkts (96 overs)........406
Fall: 1-5 2-5 3-67 4-195 5-315 6-403
To Bat: M A Wood, C Rushworth, J
Bowling: Sidebottom 19-3-76-3. Brooks
19-2-83-1. Patterson 21-5-60-0. Plunkett
12-0-64-0. Williamson 8-2-27-1. A U
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