Mustard ton puts Durham in charge
Durham 347 for 6 v Nottinghamshire
Durham skipper Phil Mustard underlined that his team will not hand over the County Championship title to Nottinghamshire without a fight. The fourth Championship century of his career was his first at Chester-le-Street and he shared an unbroken stand of 159 with Scott Borthwick to take his side to 347 for 6 at the close of the first day.
Mustard was 117 not out, his highest score since making 130 in the first match of the 2006 season at Canterbury. Nottinghamshire went into the game 16 points clear with three matches left, giving them a game in hand on their only realistic challengers, Somerset and Yorkshire.
The visitors reduced Durham to 76 for 4, but half-centuries from Mark Stoneman and Ian Blackwell began the recovery before Mustard took command. The second 50 in his 131-ball century came off only 34 balls and included 10 fours as he and Borthwick swept into overdrive against the new ball.
On 82 Mustard hit three successive fours off Luke Fletcher, then in the next over he cut Ryan Sidebottom to the boundary and turned him to long leg for the four which brought up his century. Sidebottom, who will leave after Wednesday's play to join the England Twenty20 squad, grew increasingly exasperated when failing to add to the prize scalp of Michael Di Venuto, which he claimed in the first over.
In the last over before tea he looked aghast when a huge appeal for caught behind was turned down with Mustard on 22. Then off the final ball before the break Borthwick, who had yet to score, edged towards first slip. Chris Read dived across and tipped the ball towards third man for two runs.
Borthwick, like his captain a left-handed batsman from the Sunderland area, equalled his best of 54, made at Basingstoke last month. He would have been run out on 26 had the shy from mid-on hit the stumps, but played some high-class strokes, notably an on drive and wristy flick through square leg, in his 89-ball half century.
Nottinghamshire left out Darren Pattinson and nominated him as Sidebottom's replacement to give Fletcher a game. He swung the ball away to have Gordon Muchall caught at gully and Durham's early struggles made Mustard's decision to bat look questionable.
Andre Adams had Dale Benkenstein caught behind in his first over and surprised both Stoneman and Blackwell with his skiddy pace. Full-length balls had Stoneman lbw for 67 and bowled Blackwell for 59, both playing across the line.
The other wicket went to Paul Franks, Ben Harmison being caught behind for 2 after replacing Ben Stokes, who has a foot injury.