A CRUCIAL fifth wicket partnership of 87 runs between Rob Jones and skipper Dane Villas ensured it was Lancashire’s day against Durham as Sedbergh School hosted its inaugural First Class game.

The hosts reached 275 for five at the close of play after a potentially difficult day on a demanding pitch was rescued by the fifth wicket pair who showed great patience in the face of some accurate bowling from the Durham attack.

Durham's Chris Rushworth said: "It is a glorious place and it's very nice to play here - everyone loves playing at out grounds and when you come somewhere as picturesque as this it's quite hard not to enjoy it.

"It's been an interesting day - the overhead conditions looked like it would be perfect to bowl this morning but the wicket probably didn't do as much as we thought it would.

"In general though, I think we've bowled pretty but on a small ground we've held them back quite nicely so I think we've done a decent job. Equally, Lancashire will be quite pleased how they've gone.

"If we're being picky though, if you choose to bowl first, you're probably looking at having them more than five down at the end of the day."

An overcast morning at Lancashire’s 13th first class home venue saw Durham elect to field first after an uncontested toss, with opening bowler Rushworth making an early breakthrough when he clean bowled Keaton Jennings for 11 in the ninth over of the day.

Jennings had looked in decent order, getting off the mark with a four through gully off Rushworth, before the same bowler induced him to edge a chance to Jack Burnham at third slip which was dropped.

Rushworth made amends the next delivery, hitting Jennings’ stumps with a ball that kept slightly low judging by the England opener’s rueful glance at the pitch as he departed.

At the other end, Alex Davies was in pugnacious form as he looked to drive down the ground at every opportunity with the wicket keeper batsman reaching lunch following a flurry of boundaries.

It was a shock then, when resuming on 71 for 1 after the break, Davies fell quickly after he received a brute of a ball from Brydon Carse, which bounced and left the batsman who edged through to keeper Ned Eckersley for 38.

Using the short-pitched delivery to good effect, Durham proceeded to put the squeeze on Lancashire who struggled to find any gaps on the picturesque if rather chilly ground on the edge of the Yorkshire Dales.

Haseeb Hameed was the next batsman to fall, edging Ben Raine to Durham skipper Cameron Bancroft at second slip for 24, with the score 81 for three and the North East outfit well on top.

With the day’s play in the balance Lancashire, who currently lie second in Division Two of the Specsavers County Championship, began a patient rebuild, with Liam Livingstone and Rob Jones progressing the score to 136 for 3 by the time the players departed the field due to bad light at 3.50pm, with Jones taking full advantage of his let off on 12 when he was badly dropped by Eckersley off Chris Rushworth.

Livingstone had reached a painstaking 35 runs from 95 balls when he became Nathan Rimmington’s first victim soon after tea, following a vociferous lbw appeal, which left Lancashire 141 for 4 and Durham with another chance of making further inroads.

Instead, Villas joined the impressive Jones, and the pair dominated the final session, until the Warrington-born 23-year-old was trapped in front by Rushworth for an excellent 52 from 150 balls.

Rushworth should have had his third victim when new batsman Steven Croft edged an easy chance to Alex Lees at first slip, but Croft survived and had progressed to 29 not out by the close of play with Vilas unbeaten on 67.