Stokes revives himself with hundred
Durham 223 for 4 (Stokes 103, Stoneman 86, Fletcher 3-27) beat Nottinghamshire 222 for 9 (Wessels 44) by six wickets
Ben Stokes put his frustrations behind him by thrashing a century as Durham ended Nottinghamshire's unbeaten Royal London Cup record at Chester-le-Street.
Watched by England selector Mick Newell, the visitors' coach, Stokes staked a strong claim for a return to Test duty at The Oval on Friday as his first hundred since December carried Durham to their target of 223 with six wickets in hand and 4.3 overs to spare.
After recording a duck against Middlesex on Sunday, Stokes survived a very sharp return chance to Luke Fletcher off the first ball he faced but went on to hit 15 fours in his 103 before falling to Samit Patel.
He said of the Fletcher drop: "I middled it and I would have been pretty disappointed if he'd caught it.
"I've had a few starts this season but haven't gone on, so this is my first hundred since the one for England in Perth. I'm driving down to the Oval tonight and if I do get back in the Test team this innings will give me a lot of confidence."
Stokes, who shared a third-wicket stand of 150 with Mark Stoneman, fell with only eight needed when he drove Patel to Riki Wessels at long-on. Paul Collingwood then guided Durham past the finishing post with an unbeaten 16.
Victory in their final group game at home to Surrey on Thursday will give Durham a good chance of qualifying for the quarter-finals after drawing level with Nottinghamshire on seven points, two behind group leaders Kent.
But they could be without Graham Onions for a while after he suffered a side strain in sending down his third ball in the day's second over. The ex-England paceman has already missed six weeks of the season with a back injury and his departure initially looked like being costly.
With Michael Lumb racing to 31 after Nottinghamshire were put in they reached 45 without loss after eight overs. But after Lumb skied Stokes to mid-off they lost their way against tight bowling from John Hastings and Scott Borthwick, who took two wickets in reducing Nottinghamshire to 94 for 4.
The only man to achieve any fluency was Wessels, who had made 44 off 46 balls when he gloved a catch to wicketkeeper Phil Mustard in trying to pull a leg-side ball from Hastings.
New Zealand left-hander James Franklin played only one shot in anger - a pull for six off Borthwick - in crawling to 28 off 66 balls while Chris Read made 29 off 42 balls as Nottinghamshire finished on 222 for 9.
Durham scored only 23 off the first nine overs of their reply as left-armer Harry Gurney caused Stoneman a few difficulties and Fletcher was also on the mark as he made the first two breakthroughs.
Mustard had made only 8 when he cut Fletcher straight to backward point and the same bowler had Calum MacLeod lbw for a duck for the second successive match.
Going in at 35 for 2 in the 13th over, Stokes middled the ball from the outset and was fed some easy leg-side runs by Ajmal Shahzad in completing his half-century off 51 balls.
Stoneman's 50 came off 76 balls and when Jake Ball was recalled when the batting Powerplay was taken the Durham captain immediately pulled him for two sixes.
A miscued pull to mid-on off the impressive Fletcher brought his downfall for 86, but Stokes went to his century by pulling Gurney fiercely to midwicket for his 15th four.
He holed out in the next over off the 116th ball he faced, leaving Collingwood to complete the task with a six over long-on off Patel.