Willoughby blows title race open
Somerset 480 and 119 for 1 beat Durham 220 and 378 (f/o) by nine wickets
Charl Willoughby claimed 4 for 80 as Somerset inflicted Durham's second Championship defeat of the season with a nine-wicket success at Taunton. Resuming their second innings on 209 for 1, the visitors were bowled out for 378, Will Smith making 114 and Alfonso Thomas taking 3 for 73 in support of left-armer Willoughby, who capitalised on the overcast conditions with his ability to swing the ball..
That left Somerset needing 119 to win off a minimum of 43 overs and they reached their target in the 22nd, Arul Suppiah leading the way with 66 not out. Somerset took 24 points to Durham's four. With Lancashire and Warwickshire having won, the result threw the race for the Championship title wide open, Durham's lead being reduced to just five points over Lancashire and 13 over Warwickshire, who both have a game in hand.
Smith and nightwatchman Mitch Claydon added 38 to Durham's overnight score before Smith drove at a turning ball from Murali Kartik (2 for 60) and edged a catch to Marcus Trescothick at slip. He had faced 241 balls and hit 16 fours and a six. There was no sign of the collapse ahead as Durham wiped out the 260 deficit on first innings with only two wickets down. But the second new ball brought their downfall.
Willoughby pinned Gordon Muchall lbw for 11 with a trademark inswinger and Claydon's stubborn resistance ended with another leg-before verdict after he had faced 82 balls for his 38. Dale Benkenstein had his middle stump uprooted before he had scored by a jaffa from Alfonso Thomas and suddenly the visitors were only 25 ahead with five wickets down.
It was 291 for 5 at lunch and with the fifth ball after the interval Willoughby grabbed the key wicket of Paul Collingwood, lbw for 14 to a delivery he appeared to think pitched outside leg stump. Ian Blackwell edged Thomas to Trescothick at second slip, Phil Mustard carelessly cut Willoughby straight to Nick Compton at point and Callum Thorp fell to another slip catch by James Hildreth off Thomas as Durham slumped to 330 for 9.
But Steve Harmison (27) and Graham Onions (28 not out) made Somerset fight every inch of the way with a last-wicket stand of 48 that occupied ten overs and at least gave the home batsmen something to think about. Trescothick breezed to 25 before playing on to a delivery from Onions.
But Suppiah played confidently to see his team to a win that puts them fourth in the table and keeps their own hopes of a late challenge for the title alive. The opener reached his fifty with a delightful late cut for four off Blackwell, having faced 55 balls, and celebrated with a six over wide long-on next ball.