Durham ahead on rain-sodden first day
Lancashire 131 for 4 v Durham
Durham had the better of a rain-affected day one against Lancashire at Old Trafford as the hosts could only manage to post a battling 131 for 4 after 51 overs on a testing pitch. Reigning county champions Durham, currently second bottom, are closer to relegation than they are to clinching their third crown in as many seasons.
While they can theoretically still win the title due to having games in hand on the majority of teams above them, they will no doubt be looking nervously over their shoulders. But they started well to reduce the Red Rose to 59 for 3 midway through the afternoon session.
Mitch Claydon and left-arm spinner Ian Blackwell both took two wickets while Mark Chilton top scored for the hosts with an unbeaten 68. Durham would have been in complete control had Michael Di Venuto not dropped Chilton at second slip on six off the bowling of Steve Harmison.
Dale Benkenstein also gave former team-mate Shivnarine Chanderpaul a life on nought, spilling a chance at first slip off the bowling of Claydon. That, however, did not prove to be too costly because Chanderpaul only made 10 on his home debut. The West Indies batsman followed openers Tom Smith and Paul Horton back to the pavilion.
There were three separate rain stoppages throughout the day including one to delay the start by 25 minutes. When play got underway, Smith soon edged Claydon behind to Phil Mustard in the second over for a duck. Horton then skewed a loose drive to Ben Stokes at point off Claydon in the 10th over to leave Lancashire at 17 for 2.
Chilton, stylish in tough batting conditions, and Chanderpaul then shared 42 for the third wicket before the West Indian left-hander was trapped lbw playing across his pad by Blackwell in the 26th over. Chilton hit 10 boundaries in his 123 balls, looking particularly strong on the drive.
He also shared 36 for the fourth wicket with Steven Croft before the latter edged Blackwell to Di Venuto at slip for 17 to leave the score at 95 for 4 in the 36th over. Chilton and Gareth Cross (17 not out) will resume a fifth-wicket stand of 36 tomorrow.
Despite Glen Chapple's decision to bat first there were signs of uneven bounce for the quicks and turn for the spinners. Durham have also picked legspinner Scott Borthwick to partner Blackwell and Lancashire are playing two left-armers in Gary Keedy and Simon Kerrigan. Blackwell finished with figures of 2 for 51 from 14 overs.
Meanwhile, Lancashire second team batsman Chris Tipper is in intensive care after a car accident on Sunday evening on the way to a one-day match against Worcestershire at Ombersley. The 20-year-old is on the club's Scholarship programme.