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27th Match, Blackpool, May 17 - 20, 2024, County Championship Division One
357 & 353/9d
(T:475) 236 & 414

Lancashire won by 60 runs


Brief Stokes vs Lyon bout follows formula

Undercard featuring Tom Aspinwall five-for offers better story

Nathan Lyon claimed 2 for 97 on the opening day, Hampshire vs Lancashire, County Championship, Division One, Utilita Bowl, April 12, 2024

Nathan Lyon was in the wickets to cement Lancashire's position  •  Getty Images

Lancashire 357 (Jennings 115, Bruce 46, Raine 3-67, Stokes 2-70) and 91 for 2 (Jennings 38*, Raine 1-10) lead Durham 236 (Bedingham 101, Aspinwall 5-41, Lyon 4-59) by 212 runs
Make no mistake, Saturday's heavyweight clash underwhelmed. And though you did not have to pay £24.99 to watch it, the neutrals would be right to feel short-changed by just 10 minutes of Ben Stokes versus Nathan Lyon.
The eight balls between these seasoned Ashes rivals went to type. The Australian has dismissed the England captain nine times in Tests, and number 10 with a red ball saw the left-hander sent on his way for a laboured 2, thanks to a smart low catch by Tom Bruce at second slip.
Stokes' neither-here-nor-there footwork and angled bat face were a callback to his struggles in India at the start of the year. Lyon was high-class, his 4 for 59 from 26 overs - 19 on the bounce, split 9 and 10 either side of the lunch break - were body blows to knock the wind out of Durham on their way to giving up a first-innings lead of 121 that would swell to 212 at stumps.
It was the undercard, however - as ever - that carried the better stories. Tom Aspinwall's 5 for 41, bowling for the first time in first-class cricket in just his second appearance in the format after debuting in this summer's opening round against Surrey, knocked Durham out for 236. But for a high-class century from David Bedingham - his second in a row after last week's 144 against Hampshire - from just 142 deliveries, things could have been so much worse.
"It was all a bit of a blur," beamed Aspwinwall at stumps. "But I definitely enjoyed it. Leading the boys off at the end, I couldn't believe it."
He admitted to butterflies early on, and shock when Ben Stokes walked out. "You grow up as a kid watching him and everyone my age - he's their favourite player." It's worth noting that the 20-year-old assisted his more decorated bowling partner by restricting Stokes with the eight deliveries he had at him.
Durham needed just 12 deliveries to have their turn to bat, ending Lancashire's first innings on 357. The sun was out, the outfield was quick, and an engaging batting card reinforced by Stokes had eyes on making amends for their Friday missteps. On came Lyon after nine overs to clip their wings.
With the turn available from the North End allowing the off spinner to operate exclusively from around the wicket to all-comers, he picked away at Alex Lees before actually snaring fellow southpaw Scott Borthwick, caught by Luke Wells at first slip following a faint deflection off the keeper's gloves. George Balderson had seen to Lees the ball before.
Naturally, right-handers Bedingham and Colin Ackermann found things a little easier. When Bedingham rocked back to slap a six over midwicket off Saqib Mahmood, who had beaten his edge three times, the intent was clear to see.
He was lucky to survive a strong lbw to Lyon after lunch with 28 to his name. A further call in his favour came when Aspinwall opted for a yorker for his first ball in the format. Four deliveries later, Aspwinwall was on the board, courtesy of a stunning reflex catch from Keaton Jennings, sticking out his right hand at first slip after Ackermann slashed at a wide delivery. "Probably the worst one I bowled," was Aspwinwall's honest reflection. "But it was still special."
George Bell matched Jennings' effort with his left at short leg as Ollie Robinson fell to Lyon for a two-ball duck. Stokes followed four overs later to leave Durham 145 for 5, still 212 behind. Naturally, Bedingham stepped it up a gear, moving from 61 to his century in just 42 deliveries, with the help of the first six to clear the ground when he swung into the legside off Balderson to move to 98.
Alas, that aggression would prove the undoing of South Africa's newest Test star and, ultimately, Durham. Their final five wickets fell for just 23 runs in the space of 8.4 overs, a collapse set in motion by Bedingham's hack onto his stumps off the second delivery of the evening session.
It ended a 68 partnership for the sixth wicket with Graham Clark - who would become Lyon's final dismissal - and gave Aspwinwall a spring in his step. He squared up the left-handed Ben Raine - a third wicket in the space of nine balls - before one kept so low Matthew Potts couldn't suppress a wry grin when his off stump was knocked back. The crowning glory for the Lancaster-born allrounder was trapping Callum Parkinson in front for number five.
That joy for Lancashire swelled with 91 more runs in the 21 overs that remained, as Durham's annoyance multiplied. Stokes, who kicked off the day with a solitary over, fury-ed out another four, as is his wont. Potts' outstanding catch running all of 30 yards back from mid on to catch Wells' misjudged flick to the leg side gave Stokes his third wicket of the match. And he should have had another next ball when Bohannon gloved down the leg side.
Bohannon used the let off to go rogue, driving at anything that moved and, crucially, nailing a few to make it to 38 before Raine trimmed him off. Jennings will resume on the same score on day three, emboldened by his century on day one and the efforts of a group who have showed enough heart and skill over the last 48 hours to suggest they are too good to be propping up Division One.

Vithushan Ehantharajah is an associate editor at ESPNcricinfo

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