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Durham canter towards title
THE cricket ground at Derby is part of the old racecourse, but until they mustered a sprint with the second new ball Durham continued to perform yesterday as though they are 20 lengths clear in the final furlong.
Perhaps they are. If the weather forecast in Hove is accurate closest rivals Yorkshire can hope for no better than a draw, while title outsiders Middlesex have stumbled at the Trent Bridge water jump.
Once Durham got out of the stalls they cruised along like thoroughbreds until the final half hour, when they lost both openers to close on 82 for two in reply to 298.
Mark Stoneman fell when six short of 1,000 first-class runs for the season and Scott Borthwick needs 23 to beat him to the landmark when he resumes on 21. Both tallies include their runs against the university.
Stoneman made a fluent 30 in an opening stand of 49 with Keaton Jennings, who was out for 16 five overs from the close.
Previous title challenges have underlined how much cricket matches can ebb and flow and there was a significant shift yesterday. While Durham were struggling, Yorkshire were going well, but then it all turned around.
Derbyshire were 236 for three when the new ball became available after 80 overs, but their soft under belly was exposed as Graham Onions and Chris Rushworth bowled them out two runs short of what could have been a vital third batting point for the hosts.
Four wickets crashed for six runs in 24 balls, then after an eighth-wicket stand of 42 the last three went down for eight runs.
Rushworth finished with five for 47, his third five-wicket haul of the season, while Onions had four for 62. For the young back-up bowlers it was all part of their learning experience, although Usman Arshad did chip in with the vital wicket of Shivnarine Chanderpaul.
He had contributed 53 to a painstaking third-wicket stand of 106 in 41 overs with opener Paul Borrington, who ground along to make 75 off 226 balls.
Had Durham bowled as well with the first new ball on the opening morning it might have been a different story, but they continued to lack spark until mid-afternoon yesterday.
They were also far too profligate in conceding 50 extras.
There were ten byes, ten legbyes, ten wides and ten noballs, which count double.
Such symmetry will doubtless impress some statisticians, who might also care to note that there were five fours and five threes in Chanderpaul’s half-century.
Phil Mustard has not been at his best recently and let through two byes in yesterday’s opening over inbetween Onions having an lbw appeal turned down from the first ball and another one upheld off the fourth.
That got rid of home captain Wayne Madsen, division one’s leading run scorer, but if Durham were hoping for rapid progress they seemed to lose their way when it wasn’t forthcoming.
The normally reliable Borthwick dropped Chanderpaul at second slip off Paul Collingwood on 22 shortly after the West Indian had been troubled in Arshad’s first over.
He made a habit of scoring late season runs in his Durham days, including a tedious double hundred at Worcester when the 2009 title was already secure.
His hopes of a repeat were ended when Arshad drew him into driving at a ball which was leaving him just outside off stump and the edge was well held by Collingwood at first slip.
Mark Stoneman fell when only six short of 1,000 first-class runs for the season
Richard Johnson emerged to play some fine shots, pulling Arshad for six and following it with a leg glance for four.
Eight of the no-balls came from Jamie Harrison. He also sent an attempted bouncer so far down the leg side that it went for four wides as he finished with none for 87 in 18 overs.
At least Durham gained the maximum of three bowling points, which had looked unlikely, so if they can match whatever batting points Yorkshire gain at Hove the gap should remain at 14.5 points.
Derbyshire’s collapse began in the second over of the new ball as Borthwick atoned for his miss by catching both Borrington and Johnson at second slip.
Tom Poynton edged Rushworth to Mustard then Alex Hughes clipped Onions straight to Arshad just in front of square leg.
David Wainwright and Tony Pallodino put on 42 before Onions rattled the latter’s timber and Rushworth wrapped it up.
Stoneman continued his excellent form as he cracked leftarmer Mark Footitt for three fours in the ninth over. His back-foot play through the covers was particularly impressive and it was a surprise when he pushed forward and edged Pallodino to the wicketkeeper.
Jennings had made nine off 34 balls when he clipped Tim Groenewald for four through square leg and followed up with a straight drive for three.
But in the next over he pushed forward and played on against Pallodino.
Durham declined to send in a nighwatchman but the vigilant Will Smith survived some testing bowling as the light faded on what had been a pleasant day.
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