Rushworth helps Durham resist Buttler
Durham 338 (Coughlin 85, Hogg 6-70) and 267 (Borthwick 92, Smith 5-42) beat Lancashire 266 (Khawaja 86) and 312 (Buttler 100*, Croft 72, Rushworth 4-45) by 27 runs
It has not been the smoothest of fortnights for Chris Rushworth. Durham's new-ball seamer was the victim of some abusive tweets after conceding 16 runs in the final over of their T20 Blast defeat to Worcestershire at New Road a week ago last Saturday but, today, he responded in the perfect way by helping his county to their first Championship win of the season.
Rushworth played a significant part in an enthralling final day at Chester-le-Street as he completed a haul 4 for 45 from 20.4 overs as the reigning champions defended their target of 340 to win by 27 runs half an hour after tea. It meant that Jos Buttler's first century in a Lancashire shirt came in vain.
Having removed both openers late on the third day, Rushworth returned to get Usman Khawaja caught behind two overs into the morning before wrapping things up by trapping Simon Kerrigan lbw with the second new ball, leaving Buttler stranded on 100 having kept Lancashire alive during the last day.
This win gave Durham significant breathing space at the wrong end of Division One, much to their relief. "It was nice to silence a few critics," said Rushworth before his captain Paul Collingwood sang his praises.
"Chris was outstanding throughout the match," Collingwood said. "He's been outstanding in all three forms of the game. I know there has been one game at Worcester where he didn't quite get it right but the roles he plays, he's on the money all the time. He's a great asset to have."
Lancashire so nearly pulled this game out of the fire from 74 for 4 following the early losses of Khawaja and Ashwell Prince. That owed much to Buttler's fine hundred, his fourth in Championship cricket.
He shared a counter-attacking fifth-wicket partnership of 129 with Steven Croft, who made 72, and showed that he can unite flair with the composure needed to be a success in Test cricket. He reached his century off 131 balls in what turned out to be the final over of the match and did not face another delivery.
"I know I don't have a perfect and traditional technique, so the most important thing for me is the mindset and accepting that I'll hit the ball in different areas to other players," Buttler said. "It's about getting the balance of always looking to score. I think I play better technically when I'm looking to be aggressive."
After the Buttler-Croft alliance, Durham picked up wickets at just the right time. They took three for 24 just before tea to leave Lancahsire 269 for 8, two of them going to the impressive John Hastings, who finished with 3 for 58.
They then broke a dangerous ninth-wicket stand of 40 in 7.3 overs between Buttler and Kabir Ali after they had added 26 in the first four overs after tea in taking the target down to 31 with two wickets in hand.
Lancashire, now 15 points adrift in eighth place having played once more match than Durham, had the game by the scruff of the neck twice across the four days. They had reduced Durham to 184 for 8 in the first innings before letting them get 338 and then had reached 205 for 2 in reply before losing their last eight wickets for 61.
They now face a crucial home match against Northamptonshire, starting on Sunday.