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John Ward at Chester-le-Street
June 6, 2009
Durham 84 for 2 (Smith 21*, Muchall 6*) trail Hampshire 105 (Harmison 4-43) by 21 runs
It was Durham's day at Riverside, as the reigning champions took advantage of the conditions to roll Hampshire over for 105, and then placed themselves in position to take a good lead on the second day when they finished with on 84 for 2. Graham Onions, playing his first Championship match since graduating to Test cricket, and the opening batsman Mark Stoneman were their best players of the day.
Heavy rain for much of the previous day and in the early morning had put the day's play at risk, but the ground recovered so well that the match was able to start at 12.15. Conditions were good for the bowlers, and Durham gained quite an advantage when they won the toss and put Hampshire in to bat. The pitch was lively, with enough bounce to see eight batsmen out caught in the cordon between wicketkeeper and gully during the day, and there was some movement, though it was never excessive.
Durham seized the initiative from the first over, bowled by Onions: without a run yet on the board, Michael Carberry tried to hook a short ball but sliced a top edge to third slip. Jimmy Adams and John Crawley fought their way through the rest of the 45 minutes before lunch, scoring just 16 runs in 11 overs. Onions, often bouncing the batsmen, gave them a torrid time, while at the other end Steve Harmison was less consistent, often wayward in direction. The batsmen failed to take advantage, though, only seven runs coming off his five overs.
The afternoon session was a dismal one for the visitors. Callum Thorp replaced Harmison and soon removed Adams (8), squaring him up and having him caught at fourth slip - Durham often employed four or even five in this area, and it proved profitable. John Crawley fell to Onions for 10, the catch bouncing off third slip straight into the hands of his neighbour at second, while Sean Ervine scored only 2 before dabbing weakly at a ball outside his off stump to give the keeper an easy catch. Onions' excellent opening spell, on either side of lunch, read 13-3-19-3.
From 26 for 4, Michael Lumb and Nic Pothas fought back with a partnership of 33, which was to be the highest of the innings. It was ended by the fourth seamer, Matthew Claydon, who bowled a full length, trapping Lumb lbw for 20 and then yorking Liam Dawson next ball. Dominic Cork averted the hat-trick and batted usefully with Pothas for a time. The latter played rather a strange innings, never looking in much trouble and every so often appearing ready to break out and dominate the bowling before apparently thinking better of it.
Harmison, changing ends, bowled better from there and finished off the innings, first removing Cork for 13, flashing a head-high catch to second slip, and Imran Tahir, who preferred to play him from the region of square leg, but was bowled. David Griffiths soon fell as well, but James Tomlinson hung in there until Pothas was finally dismissed for 35, caught at third slip. The last pair avoided the ignominy of a double-innings total, the final score being 105. Harmison finished with 4 for 43, but Onions, who shattered the top order, was the best bowler with 3 for 22.
Durham also began shakily, with Michael Di Venuto falling to third slip, off Tomlinson, for 7 in the second over. But Stoneman played the most impressive innings of the day, although against a lesser attack than Durham's; he chose his shots well and in particular made life hard for Imran Tahir as a spin bowler was tried for the first time during the day. The Pakistani got his revenge in the end, though, with a beautifully flighted delivery that Stoneman, on 44, edged into the hands of slip; Durham 75 for 2. But Smith finished on 21 to see out the day in company with Gordon Muchall (6), and the team is well placed to take a firm grip on this match tomorrow.
© ESPN Sports Media Ltd.
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