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Les Smith at Chester-le-Street
April 11, 2013
Durham 250 and 92 for 8 (Thomas 3-19, Trego 3-23) lead Somerset 132 (Rushworth 6-58, Onions 4-41) by 210 runs
This was the kind of day that gives county cricket a good name. Strokeplay might have been in short supply, but almost every one of the 18 wickets to fall was the result of excellent seam bowling and fielding; only one player could be said to have given his wicket away and the battle between ball and bat was engrossing. Durham's collapse to 92 for 8 - still a lead of 210 - in the latter half of day loosened their grip on proceedings but Somerset had already been undermined by then.
Somerset finished their first innings 118 runs behind but Durham's second knock was similarly afflicted, as controlled, lively seam bowling accounted for the top four batsmen for 20 runs by the 12th over. The role Graham Onions had played in the morning was replicated in the afternoon by Peter Trego. The allrounder bowled Keaton Jennings and Will Smith, and had Mark Stoneman caught behind before Alfonso Thomas wheedled out three of Durham's middle order, including the dangerous Ben Stokes and Paul Collingwood on either side of tea.
That Durham are still just about in control of the match is down to their first innings, which gained lustre overnight. They were all out off the last ball of the first day and might now reflect that 250 was not too bad a first-innings score on the opening day of the season.
The inroads into the Somerset order on Thursday morning were made by Graham Onions, the leading wicket-taker in first-class cricket last summer. He last played in a Test match in June - and suffered on England's tour of New Zealand - so will have been pleased to take the first three wickets of Durham's season with selector James Whittaker looking on. He bowled with pace, accuracy and some hostility, and his wickets included the crucial one of Marcus Trescothick, in his third over. The majority of his peers consider Trescothick to be the best player in county cricket, and there was much jubilation when he was out.
Onions' new-ball partner was Chris Rushworth, who was wicketless in his first spell but returned before lunch and soon had Craig Kieswetter caught at first slip. He went on to take five further wickets in the afternoon session including top-scorer Jos Buttler, who, one ball after smacking a six over midwicket, played all around a straight one. Rushworth finished with career-best figures of 6 for 58 to leave Somerset 132 all out. The accuracy with which Onions and Rushworth exploited helpful conditions was indicated by six slip catches, an lbw, and a bowled.
Rushworth's career has been a curious one, the sporting equivalent of snakes and ladders. A modest ascent occurred early on when, after impressing in minor counties cricket for Northumberland, he was given a one-day debut by Durham at the age of 19. He spent the next five years back playing league cricket for his home town club in Sunderland, and in Australia during the winter. Durham kept an eye on him, though, and by 2010 had seen enough to offer him an extended opportunity at first-class level. His most significant climb came in the 2012 season, by the end of which he had taken 38 wickets and established himself as first choice to partner Onions at the start of the innings. He climbed another ladder here.
© ESPN Sports Media Ltd.
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