Worcestershire v Durham, LV= Championship, Division One, New Road, 3rd day May 26, 2015

Collingwood's birthday ton sets up a party


Durham 198 and 270 for 3 (Collingwood 111*, Jennings 61) need 48 more runs to beat Worcestershire 323 and 192 (Leach 76, Hastings 7-60)

Paul Collingwood's hundred led Durham's chase © Getty Images

Paul Collingwood, on his 39th birthday, added to a long list of match-shaping performances with a 31st first-class century as Durham closed in on a victory which would take them to the top of Division One in the LV= County Championship.

Set to make 318, they cruised to 270 for 3, with their captain on 111 not out, and will resume needing only 48 to win a game that they looked likely to lose when trailing by 220 at the fall of their ninth wicket in the first innings.

If Scott Borthwick's hundred was the catalyst for an epic recovery, then Collingwood, with assistance from Keaton Jennings and Michael Richardson, was the cool head in seeing it towards a successful conclusion.

Although Durham have played more games than their rivals, this match could be a defining moment in resurrecting a title challenge after batting collapses in consecutive away defeats by Middlesex, the previous leaders, and Warwickshire.

This is yet to be entirely rectified, having seeped into this game when they were 103 for 9 on the second afternoon, but it was a welcome step to see Collingwood taking charge of what should now be a stroll to a fourth victory, each one when batting last.

The target here is the biggest by 50 or more runs and on the third morning, few would have expected such a score to be within range, given that 26 wickets had fallen on a pitch which gave liberal assistance to the seamers.

Both teams struggled to get through new-ball periods and as a result the match became top-heavy in lower-order runs, a trend which continued when Joe Leach rattled up 76 from 53 balls as Worcestershire added 127 to their overnight 65 for 6.

Improvisation was a feature in many of his big shots - 10 fours and three sixes - and he had some luck when giving three chances.

Ben Cox scored almost as quickly until John Hastings broke a stand of 75 and went on to take the last three wickets for a career-best 7 for 70. When Leach was last out, making room to cut a ball that was too full and straight, he had changed the dynamics of the game.

No longer were batsmen bugged by the pitch and so it proved when Durham began their long haul with a barrage of strokes from Mark Stoneman in making 37 out of 53 for the opening partnership.

With the cloud cover of the first two days giving way to sunshine, Worcestershire's three seamers were not as threatening. Even when Stoneman and Borthwick went in quick succession, Durham negotiated a good spell by Jack Shantry and quickly got back on course.

Collingwood, as he has done in in countless situations around the globe, brought assurance, even an air of certainty, that the target would be reached. His was much the larger share of a stand of 108 before Charlie Morris winkled out Jennings for 61, a thin edge comfortably taken behind the wicket by Cox.

Collingwood's hundred, his 17th in the championship and second of this season, arrived after 140 balls with a glance for his 15th four and he also hit a six as Richardson played sensibly and conservatively for his 41 out of 96 so far.