Durham 337 for 6 (Di Venuto 184*) v Yorkshire
Michael Di Venuto, for once avoiding the fate of being run out, held together Durham's fragile first innings against Yorkshire. He had little support from his partners, none of whom reached 30, and was still there with 184 to his account at the close, made from a total of 337 for 6. This was his day, and he still has tomorrow ahead of him.
Yet he could have departed to the first ball of the match. Bowled by Darren Gough, it went right through him to the keeper and might so easily have taken the edge of the bat. Gough defied suggestions that he was at the end of the line after a bad match at home against Nottinghamshire two weeks ago, and put in a fine but luckless spell with the new ball. At the other end Dion Kruis swung the ball considerably, but too often down the leg side to the two Durham left-handers.
Both Di Venuto and Mark Stoneman had some near misses, but to their credit they hung in and made sure of giving Durham a sound start. The seamer Ben Sanderson was making his first-class debut for Yorkshire, with Matthew Hoggard being kept as security in the England team until making his way north during the afternoon, after some excellent second-team performances, and moved the ball a little without really looking threatening. The opening stand reached 96 until, not long before lunch, Stoneman (27) edged Tim Bresnan to third slip.
Kyle Coetzer battled for two runs off 41 balls, and these only came through a misfield. It was reported that his father has or had a job working on an oil rig in the North Sea, but it could be said that today it was the son who was boring. One must feel, though, for a player desperate for batting form.
Gough looked less threatening in his second spell, though he did have Di Venuto missed off a difficult chance in the gully when on 68, the only opportunity he offered during the day. He was now looking to take command more decisively, and went on to reach his century off 153 balls. He picked up the loose ball with skill, especially those giving him width, and most of his runs came through pulls, cuts and cover drives. He scored 89 runs in the afternoon session.
Tea found Yorkshire up against 239 for four, but an inspired decision by Gough to open afterwards with the gentle medium-pace of Anthony McGrath brought instant rewards. Dale Benkenstein (29) pulled a long hop to midwicket, and then Phil Mustard (6) slashed at a wide ball and edged to the keeper; 247 for five.
But Di Venuto was still there, destined to bat throughout the day, although he added only another 44 runs during the final session. Ben Harmison scored 21 without ever looking comfortable, but Paul Wiseman looked as sound as any, save for the opener himself, as he saw out the day.
For Yorkshire, Tim Bresnan finished with the most presentable figures, three for 51 so far off 19 overs, perhaps flattering him a little, but he bowled capably and kept the runs down. Durham will be happy with their overall total, but without the contribution of their Tasmanian it would have been a different story.