Stoneman ton gives Durham the edge
Durham 360 for 9 v Sussex
Durham batsman Mark Stoneman enjoyed another red-letter day against Sussex to give his side a measure of control on the first day of the County Championship Division One match at Hove.
The left-hander has now scored two of his three first-class hundreds against Sussex after making his debut against the county in 2007. He was out six overs before the close for a career-best 128 from 254 balls with 19 fours and a six as Durham closed on 360 for nine, with Callum Thorp unbeaten on 33.
It was often hard going for the 24-year-old, who came in in the sixth over after Michael Di Venuto was caught behind trying to force off the back foot to give James Anyon the first of three wickets. Stoneman had reached 49 at lunch but after completing his half-century in the first over of the afternoon he concentrated on watchful defence, particularly against Monty Panesar, and only added 14 runs in the next 100 minutes while 73 were being added at the other end.
He broke free from the shackles briefly by taking 11 when Amjad Khan returned to the attack and then tucked into the new ball with three boundaries in a row off Wayne Parnell and another eight runs in the next over from Khan before completing his hundred with a boundary off Parnell, the 15th of his innings.
It was no surprise that Durham opted to bat first on a slowish pitch but they did not really impose themselves until a fourth-wicket stand either side of tea between Stoneman and Benkenstein who added 99 in 30 overs, Benkenstein contributing 64 off 99 deliveries with 10 fours.
The partnership ended unnecessarily when Stoneman dabbed the ball into the off-side and set off for a high-risk single. Benkenstein's momentary hesistation cost him as Murray Goodwin returned the ball accurately with the batsman well short of his ground.
It was a much-needed breakthrough for Sussex, who struck again two balls later when Ian Blackwell top-edged a sweep to square leg to give off-spinner Chris Nash only his fourth Championship wicket of the season. Anyon, the pick of Sussex's seam attack, returned with the new ball to have Phil Mustard caught behind and Scott Borthwick taken low down by Luke Wells for a duck four balls later.
Stoneman apart, none of the Durham top order had gone on after making decent starts. Opener Will Smith was well held by the diving Matt Prior at second slip as the England wicketkeeper returned to domestic duty to play only his fourth Championship game of the summer. Paul Collingwood found the boundary twice off the first 33 balls he faced by hitting Anyon through the offside for successive fours.
The former England player also pulled Parnell for six but the South African left-armer had his revenge when Collingwood played back and edged to first skip, where skipper Michael Yardy held a juggling catch.