Slow progress

First published in Sport The Northern Echo: Photograph of the Author by

DURHAM took only one wicket this afternoon until they again struck in the last over of the session after being held up by half-centuries from Paul Stirling and Toby Roland-Jones.

Middlesex added 143 to reach 320 for eight at tea, trailing by 248, and it was a relief for Durham to see Roland-Jones get an inside edged into his stumps off Mark Wood to depart for a career-best 63.

It ended a stand of 56 in nine overs with Tim Murtagh, who slogged three fours in an over off John Hastings to reach 34 not out.

The other wicket went to Scott Borthwick when Stirling inside-edged a googly straight into the hands of Keaton Jennings at short leg.

The expected showers stayed away and by the time the second new ball was taken the sun was shining and there was little evidence of swing. Hastings conceded 23 in three overs.

Roland-Jones’ previous best was 60, made in Middlesex’s last match at Northampton, where he also took 12 wickets.

Stirling, who made 59, had three narrow escapes against Chris Rushworth on 17. An edge flew just wide of the slips then an inside edge saved him from being lbw before Ben Stokes failed to hang on to a sharp chance at gully.

The Irishman also top-edged a hook off Stokes over the wicketkeeper on 24, but generally looked a good player.

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