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South Afrrican resolve rescues Durham
THE local lads took the major honours in winning the title for Durham, but it needed some diamond-encrusted South African resolve yesterday to rekindle hopes of an 11th win.
An innings defeat had looked more likely, but this is a team of winners and Keaton Jennings and Michael Richardson both made centuries.
With four second innings wickets standing Durham still needed 44 to make Sussex bat again at Hove, but at the close they were 216 in front with three wickets left.
While the others might have lacked motivation as Durham slipped to 120 for six, the stand of 218 showed the value of having something to prove and also underlined yet again the team's spirit.
Jennings batted all day to reach 113 in a total of 380 for seven, showing remarkable powers of concentration for a 21-year-old.
Once the ball softened the pitch looked much flatter than on the first day, so Durham might still suffer their fourth defeat on the final day of the season. But at least now they have the incentive to mount one final flourish.
Jennings had just reached his hundred when the second new ball was taken, while Richardson was on 93. But he sped to his second century following his 102 at Scarborough by driving Chris Jordan to the extra cover boundary then whipping a short ball in front of mid-wicket for his 12th four. He also hit two sixes.
In reaching three figures off 139 balls his second 50 had taken only 58 deliveries and two more pulled fours off the previously impressive Jordan took him past his partner after giving him 36 overs start.
Ben Stokes briefly showed the class which got him into England's winter Ashes squad by making 45 off 40 balls, but for Jennings this was a final chance of the season to do what he loves best - occupying the crease. That was enough motivation in itself.
He has had a lean time since making 93 and 123 at home to Derbyshire in July, making a top score of 35 in 12 innings. But he looked totally unflappable as he survived some hostile early bowling from Jordan.
After taking 122 balls to reach 50 he dug in even deeper, spending 22 balls on 57 before advancing steadily towards his hundred.
On 95 he cut Jordan fiercely for his 13th four then nudged a short ball round the corner to complete his third first-class century off 218 balls.
The 1,000-run men didn't last long. Mark Stoneman made five before a leading edge off Jordan resulted in an easy catch to mid-off then Scott Borthwick was out for one when he was bowled by a ball from Steve Magoffin which kept low.
A similar delivery, the first of Jordan's second spell, accounted for Stokes after making a sparkling 45 off 40 balls.
Coming in at 35 for three he spent six overs making his first six runs then took three fours and a pulled six off five balls from Jimmy Anyon.
There were also some glorious drives in Stokes's cameo, but after another pulled six off Anyon flew out of the ground Jordan was recalled with instant success.
The Barbadian then surprised Paul Collingwood with a steep lifter which he could only fend to gully.
Jennings withstood some fierce stuff after lunch from Jordan, who also looks a top-class slip fielder and comfortably pouched a sharp slash from Phil Mustard off Anyon.
After his first innings duck Richardson survived a good shout for lbw first ball but then got off the mark with a pulled six off Anyon, who had him dropped on 119 by Matt Prior at second slip.
Two balls later Richardson pulled his third six as Sussex were made to look impotent, but in going for a repeat six overs from the close he miscued to mid-on.
If Sussex thought the punishment was over they were mistaken. Usman Arshad emerged to hook Anyon for six then hit him for four fours in five balls in romping to 38 off 23 balls at the close.
The squad is being trimmed but it still looks as though there is no end to Durham's depth of talent.