Wakely guides Northants to five-wicket win
Northants 173 for 5 beat Durham 172 by five wickets
Former England Under-19 captain Alex Wakely posted easily his best one-day league score of 78 not out as Northamptonshire secured a five-wicket Clydesdale Bank 40 win over Durham at Chester-le-Street.
Although he has made a Twenty20 half-century, the elegant 22-year-old right-hander had a previous best List A score of 35. He headed to the middle with his side on 14 for 2 in reply to 172, but with no need to hurry he relied on good placement and lively running in a stand of 94 in 18 overs with opener Stephen Peters.
When Dale Benkenstein brought himself on as Durham's eighth bowler, he had Peters caught behind for 55. But only six runs were needed by the time David Sales was yorked by Mitch Claydon in the 37th over.
Sunderland seamer Chris Rushworth, making his first appearance of the season for Durham, then bowled another tight over to follow his opening spell of 4-1-4-2.
With two wanted off two overs, Andrew Hall had a big swing at Claydon and was bowled, but Northamptonshire still eased home with nine balls to spare.
Only four Durham batsmen reached double figures and of those Ben Stokes took 40 balls to score 15, while last man Rushworth made 12 not out. Chaminda Vaas removed both openers, Phil Mustard and Kyle Coetzer, in the first over and conceded only six runs in five overs.
Following his unbeaten 95 in last week's win against Scotland, Gordon Muchall easily top scored again with 70, made off 92 balls with six fours. It was only during his third-wicket stand of 97 in 17 overs with Benkenstein that Durham were in the game.
The captain's run-a-ball 44, which included the only six of the innings, ended when he was brilliantly caught at long-on by Wakely, who clung on after knocking the ball up one-handed just inside the rope off the bowling of James Middlebrook.
Benkenstein's exit triggered the fall of four wickets for 14 runs, with Middlebrook picking up three.There were also two in one over for 21-year-old left-arm seamer David Willey, who forced Gareth Breese to play on and had Scott Borthwick caught behind.
Rushworth bowled impressively at the start of Northamptonshire's reply, beating Mal Loye's forward push to hit the off stump. Then Niall O'Brien swept to deep backward square, where Coetzer held a well-judged catch.
But by bringing on Stokes and Ashington seamer Mark Wood, making his competitive debut, Durham relaxed the pressure and allowed Wakely to build his match-winning innings.