Day Four
Durham v Yorkshire
LV County Championship

PAUL COLLINGWOOD admitted he still can’t be sure how Chester-le-Street pitches will behave after the outstanding Joe Root made a nonsense of the Durham captain’s declaration on Saturday.

In a game they dominated until the last two sessions Durham lost by four wickets as Root’s 182 took Yorkshire past their target of 336 with 6.1 overs to spare.

The placid pitch had allowed Durham to score 275 for four on Friday before rain robbed them of 11 overs and Collingwood felt it had forced his hand in declaring as he wanted to have seven overs’ bowling that evening.

“If that black cloud hadn’t come over we would have batted for ten more overs and might have added 60 runs,” he said. “But looking at the statistics and the history of this ground you would have said it was a safe declaration. What it shows is that I still don’t know these pitches 100 per cent. It surprised me how flat this one got, so next time I’ll set a target of 450.

“I’m happy to take the criticism because it still took a superb innings to beat us. We threw everything at him, but world-class bowlers weren’t good enough to get him out.

He showed what a strong head he has. The rhythm of his innings was perfect, but we know from Twenty20 cricket that he’s very versatile. He can play any way he wants.”

There were a few signs that 22-year-old Root was flagging towards the end of the innings and when one was needed to win 13 balls elapsed before he played back and was bowled by Callum Thorp.

The game was up for Durham long before then as Yorkshire pulled off their fourth highest successful run chase in the fourth innings of a match.

There has been none higher at Riverside, with only two totals of above 300 being knocked off before, the previous record being Durham’s 318 for two against Nottinghamshire in 2001.

That also came after a declaration, of which Martin Love made a mockery by scoring an unbeaten 149.

But Yorkshire skipper Andrew Gale would have known that it’s not impossible to chase down a big target at the ground as this was the third time Yorkshire have done it in recent years.

In 2010, they scored 299 for six with Gale unbeaten on 70, then two years ago he was 101 not out when Yorkshire reached a target of 280 with six wickets in hand.

Morning rain cleared in time for a prompt start on Saturday and Yorkshire lost two wickets in the day’s fifth over to Chris Rushworth.

He had two left-handers, Adam Lyth and Phil Jaques, caught behind with Jaques bagging a pair to make it 23 for two. But the unflappable Root then shared stands of 80 with Gale, 59 with Jonny Bairstow, 72 with Gary Ballance and 101 with Adil Rashid.

Root’s serene progress to his 180-ball century was threatened only when he survived a very tight run-out call on 87, going back for a second run to deep point.

Durham were certain Mark Stoneman’s throw had beaten him, but Alex Wharf disagreed and the umpire was also unmoved when Root tried a reverse sweep off Will Smith and Paul Collingwood held what he thought was a sharp catch at slip.

“If there was no contact with the bat then it was worth a shout for lbw,” said Collingwood.

“I would also like to have seen a replay of the run out, but I’ve got no complaints.”

Yorkshire were 212 for four at tea, needing a further 124 from 34 overs, and Durham gambled on bowling the leg spin of Scott Borthwick after the break.

But he bowled too many bad balls and runs came so easily that the target was down to 53 off 23 overs when the new ball became available.

On a sunny evening it had little impact on a pitch which had lost pace and other than Rashid offering a very sharp chance to gully off Graham Onions there was little sign of a breakthrough.

Root cut Rushworth’s first delivery with the new ball for four and continued his flawless progress until he had a couple of minor scares on 168.

A ball from Rushworth struck him a painful blow on the hand and dropped close to the stumps, then an Onions delivery shot through at ankle height and just missed off stump.

Some of Rashid’s early runs came a little streakily, but he played more sensibly than in the first innings and remained unbeaten on 50, having reached his half-century off 75 balls with seven fours.

Careless batting had seen Yorkshire dismissed for 177 in the first innings and brought some harsh words from the management. They will be much happier now.