Durham 368 for 5 (Lees 181, Burnham 86) v Leicestershire
A superb innings of 181 from Alex Lees has handed Durham the perfect start to their Specsavers County Championship Division Two match against Leicestershire at Emirates Riverside.
Without Cameron Bancroft, the home side needed a performance from one of their frontline batsmen. Lees came to the fore with his best display since signing for the club last year, notching his highest score for Durham.
Lees batted at an excellent tempo throughout, working in partnerships with the upper and middle order to move Durham into a dominant position at the end of the day. Jack Burnham fell just before the close for an innings of 86, handing a rare moment of joy to the Leicestershire bowlers, who toiled all day at Chester-le-Street.
The home side were inserted after an uncontested toss, and Lees was assertive in his approach from the off to allow Durham to settle into their innings. He and Cameron Steel were able to safely see off the threat of the new ball, reaching their fifty partnership in the 15th over.
Lees settled into a rhythm and scored successive boundaries through the off side to notch his half-century. Steel's innings came to end on 24 when Gavin Griffiths found his outside edge and Colin Ackermann took the catch.
Angus Robson joined Lees at the crease on his Durham debut. The two players guided the hosts over the 100-run mark before Robson was pinned lbw by Will Davis. Peter Handscomb, replacing Bancroft in the line-up, found his form at the crease to ease the pressure on Lees. It allowed the opener to move seamlessly through the 90s.
Lees eased his way to his third century of the campaign from 137 balls by pulling a delivery from Chris Wright through the leg side to the fence. He survived a near miss when he edged a delivery behind from Wright later in the over, although for the second time in the day it travelled between Harry Swindells and Paul Horton. Handscomb was proving to be a good foil at the other end in a stand worth 77 as the Aussie made his way to 29 before he was removed lbw by Wright.
Lees was undeterred and carried his team to their first batting point before he and Burnham upped the ante before the tea break. The duo put the Leicestershire attack to the sword, elevating the run rate beyond four per over, reaching the fifty partnership for the fourth wicket in just 51 deliveries. The second batting point was achieved just before the interval with the hosts adding 159 runs in the afternoon session alone.
After the restart, Lees quickly notched his 150 - the first time he had achieved the milestone as a Durham player. Burnham's aggressive style at the other end propelled the hosts towards the 300-run mark, notching his fourth half-century of the campaign cutting a short Davis ball to the fence. Burnham brought up the century stand in style, smashing a short Davis delivery, but this time over the rope.
Durham worked their way past the 300 to secure a third batting point as Lees and Burnham continued to pile on the runs. Lees survived a good shout of lbw from Abbas on 170, but after adding 11 further runs the seamer snagged his wicket trapping him in front of off-stump, ending an outstanding innings from the Yorkshireman.
Burnham and Liam Trevaskis added the fourth batting point, although the former fell just before the close.