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Jon Culley in Chester-le-Street
May 5, 2014
Durham 361 for 8 (Richardson 148, Stoneman 131, Rashid 3-70) trail Yorkshire 589 for 8 dec (Gale 124, Lyth 104, Williamson 97, Bairstow 95) by 228 runs
It was little wonder that Kumar Sangakkara wasted no time in heading for the nets after his brief debut innings for Durham. When the length of your deal allows for a maximum of four visits to the crease, in what everybody recognises is a useful warm-up for Sri Lanka's Test series against England, it must be slightly embarrassing if the first of them is a second-ball duck.
The Yorkshire bowlers did not bowl as many testing deliveries as they yearned to after setting a formidable first-innings total but Ryan Sidebottom found one for Sangakkara that moved away as he pushed forward and took the edge. It flew to third slip, where Kane Williamson deflected to second slip where Adam Lyth took the catch.
Sankakkara's professionalism in organising that net session was plain to see. And at least there is the opportunity for him to make amends. Durham, eight wickets down, need another 79 to avoid the follow-on, so the odds are that Sangakkara will be required again on the final day. Yorkshire, one way or another, need to take 12 wickets if they are to reap the full reward for their colossal first-innings total.
Durham, you suspect, will fancy their chances of securing a draw. They will do so if Mark Stoneman and Michael Richardson play as well as they did in the first innings. There was a century from each: a career-best in each instance.
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They have been in no doubt for some time that Stoneman, an elegant left-hander, is an opening batsman of high quality.In Richardson's case, after scoring two centuries last season batting at No 8, promotion to five -- four until Sangakkara came -- gives him a clear an opportunity which, on the evidence so far, he is ready to take.
Two half-centuries against Northamptonshire augured well and while he was out more cheaply against Somerset there was something to build on in each innings. This time, he made a start and did not waste it, constructing a half-century with care and then pushing on remorselessly. Stoneman was impressive, but Richardson's was the innings of the day.
Stoneman, unlucky in Durham captain Paul Collingwood's view not to have been on the England Lions tour last winter, completed his half-century soon after the resumption. Scored off only 54 balls, it had been the most fluent of the match to that point.
Afterwards, he needed to dig in. The Yorkshire bowlers, who had rather wasted the new ball on the second evening, found better lines and a more testing length, Sidebottom and Tim Bresnan in particular. The latter, making his first appearance after England asked that he be rested until this match, looked in good order, backing up director of cricket Martyn Moxon's assertion that there is plenty of cricket to come from him. Liam Plunkett, too, attracted attention by cranking it up around 90mph.
Even so, Stoneman did not offer a genuine chance until he had reached his hundred, getting there with two leg-side boundaries off Jack Brooks, who was the least effective seamer on the day. It was his ninth first-class hundred. Six have come since August 2012, which explains why Durham now think so highly of him.
He was dropped by Adil Rashid at first slip off Sidebottom on 102, after which he went on to reach 131, having hit 17 fours, before a misjudgement against Plunkett cost him dearly, bringing an lbw verdict as he shouldered arms, a reward for Plunkett's aggressive post-lunch spell.
Richardson, whose arrival at 70 for 3 gave him much to do, was excellent in his support for Stoneman. He took twice as long as his partner to reach 50 but then opened up, scoring his second 50 in half the time. He pulled Brooks for six, hit 14 fours and had just hit Rashid over the rope at long-off when, looking for another big blow, he allowed Andrew Hodd the chance of a stumping. By that time, though, he had moved well past his previous best -- 129 against Sussex at Hove last September.
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