Onions stars in thumping Durham win
Durham 311 (Smith 80, Blackwell 68, Tahir 5-85) beat Hampshire 105 and 96 (Lumb 32) by an innings-and-110 runs
It took only 52 minutes on the third day for Durham to wrap up a convincing victory over a dismal Hampshire by an innings and 110 runs. They dominated the match like true champions, from start to finish, after securing a decided advantage in winning the toss. The unofficial Man-of-the-Match award would have to go to their pace bowler, Graham Onions, who took 6 for 58 in this innings and 9 for 80 in the match. Ironically, as a result, he will probably be spotted only rarely in Durham colours again this season, as his immediate international future looks assured.
Hampshire, 52 for 4 overnight, crumbled weakly to 96 all out. Onions struck with his first ball of the morning, which was far too good for Hampshire's reserve nightwatchman David Griffiths. The ball hit his off stump and flew straight into the hands of Michael Di Venuto at second slip. The rest of the over was less pleasant for the bowler, as Sean Ervine helped himself to three easy fours, simply helping the ball on its way as he steered it backward of point, twice, and to fine leg. At moments like this Ervine reveals his true ability as a cricketer of genuine international class: he has a good record for Hampshire by ordinary standards, but for a man of his ability it could be called disappointing. His county can expect more from him.
Onions struck another major blow as an inswinger took the edge of Jimmy Adams' bat and crashed into his leg stump; the dour opener had faced 71 balls for his 11 runs. The only time during the morning when there seemed to be any real possibility of a genuine stand was when Nic Pothas was in with Ervine, but Onions destroyed that, too. He cut the ball back at pace to trap the wicketkeeper lbw for 8, and Hampshire were 76 for 7.
It could be said that Hampshire had virtually no 'tail' to come, thanks to their decision to use two nightwatchmen the previous evening, but this made little difference, as none of their remaining batsmen showed prolonged fight. Ervine was next to go, an unnecessary wicket. A vicious lifter from Callum Thorp struck him on the hand, briefly arousing his ire and causing him to respond with successive pulls for 4 off the next two balls, the second a particularly vicious blow. But before the over was out, he had pulled the ball uppishly towards long leg, from where Matt Claydon ran in to take a good low catch. Ervine had made 22, and his was the only wicket of the morning that Onions failed to secure.
The collapse continued to the end, as Dominic Cork (6) edged Onions to slip, and next ball the last man Imran Tahir wafted a catch to the keeper to bring Hampshire's second innings to its ignominious end still four runs short of three figures. Their team will be most unhappy with their display in this match, and a major post-mortem is likely. As for Durham, they rise to the top of the table, although are likely to be overtaken tomorrow by Nottinghamshire; these two look the most impressive teams in the Championship this season at present, but the final destiny of the title may well depend on the decisions of the national selectors. Onions, at least, is likely to figure significantly in those plans.