DURHAM skipper Paul Collingwood paid tribute to his bowlers, particularly Chris Rushworth, after they dramatically clinched their first LV= County Championship win of the season by 27 runs at home to Lancashire.
Collingwood said: “It was nerve-racking, but we always know here that you are only one wicket away from going bang, bang.
“There wasn’t much life in the pitch and balls going soft after 15-20 overs doesn’t help.
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But the bowlers kept running in hard.
“We have four bowlers injured and John Hastings has been a big help since he arrived. He builds pressure through his accuracy and I now know that when the chance comes to win a game, I can’t get the ball off him.
“Ben Stokes is the same and Chris Rushworth has been outstanding this season. He has deserved more wickets than he has taken and could have had six or seven in this innings.”
England one-day wicketkeeper Jos Buttler was left stranded on 100 as Lancashire slipped below Durham, who also have a game in hand, into the second relegation place.
He was on 97 when he was joined by last man Simon Kerrigan with 31 needed just as Rushworth took the new ball.
Buttler cut the first ball for two and pushed the second to deep cover for a single to complete his hundred off 131 balls.
But two balls later Kerrigan played across an in-swinger and was lbw, leaving Rushworth with four for 45 and Lancashire all out for 312.
With the skies clear, the pitch was flat and Rushworth said: “They probably had the best of the conditions for batting in both innings, but that shows how well we stood up and how hard we fought.
“We always think there’s going to be a big stand here at some point and that was the case today. It got a big tense, but we never panic.”
Rushworth produced the perfect ball to a left-hander to have Usman Khawaja caught behind in the day’s third over and added: “I’ve enjoyed bowling to left-handers in the last two years. We knew Khawaja was a big wicket and it was good to get him so early.”
Durham took the two wickets they wanted in the first hour, only for the change bowlers to come under fire from Buttler and Steven Croft.
Ben Stokes’ first six overs cost 34 runs, and despite the fortunate dismissal of Ashwell Prince, Paul Coughlin was similarly expensive as his championship debut became less dreamy. A leg-side ball was deflected off Prince, who was clearly angry to be given out caught behind.
Prince was triggered at High Noon, leaving Lancashire on 74 for four, but they fired all the bullets in the next hour, reaching lunch on 165 for four.
Scott Borthwick had seen a long hop flat-batted for six by Buttler, who drove the next ball over extra cover. Then Croft drove a full toss for his seventh four to reach 50 off 66 balls and the leg-spinner’s four overs had cost 30.
While Croft and Buttler were together, there was every reason to believe Lancashire could reach their target of 340 and pull off the highest fourth innings run chase in the Chester- le-Street ground’s 19-year history. Yorkshire made 339 for six to win last year.
Croft surrendered for 72 when he pulled Stokes to deep square leg, where Gordon Muchall held a good catch.
And then Butler was happy to play second fiddle to Tom Smith, who eased to 26 before Collingwood’s bowling changes began to pay dividends. Smith pushed forward to the fourth ball of a Hastings spell and a thick edge flew low to Borthwick at gully.
Glen Chapple made a streaky 14 before Stokes returned and the visiting captain chased the fourth ball, which was short and wide, and edged to Phil Mustard.
When Kyle Hogg pushed tentatively forward and was bowled by Hastings, No 10 batsman Kabir Ali joined Buttler with 71 needed.
On five, Kabir skied a pull off Stokes, which just cleared the fielder at long leg and went for six. The target was down to 31 when Hastings had Kabir caught at forward short leg for 26 and in the next over it was all over.