Durham 384 (Bancroft 158, Eckersley 118) and 284 for 3 dec (Lees 143) beat Sussex 232 (Carse 5-43) and 240 (Robinson 59, Raine 6-27, Rushworth 4-44) by 196 runs
Cameron Bancroft made a shocking admission on the third evening of this game. He confessed he did not yet know the lyrics of "Blaydon Races", Durham's famous victory song. "When we sing it, one of the lads has to get the words up on his phone," said the Durham skipper. Someone at the Riverside should perhaps advise Bancroft to remedy this deficiency forthwith. Folk in the North East might look askance at a bloke bunging an abrasive down his strides in a Test match but not knowing what could be observed down the Scotswood Road on June 9, 1862 is even less easy to excuse.
One Durham cricketer almost certainly well acquainted with events at Balmbra's and the Robin Adair is Ben Raine and he may have belted out the Geordie anthem with particular gusto this glorious afternoon in Hove after his team had completed their 196-run victory over Sussex. Despite spending six seasons at Leicestershire, Sunderland-born Raine was very much returning home when he signed a three-year contract at the Riverside last September and he will have taken particular pleasure in taking four wickets in 16 balls either side of lunch, a spell which all but decided the game.
Things got even better for Raine later in the piece. His dismissals of both Chris Jordan and Aaron Thomason sealed Durham's victory seven overs after tea and they left him with career-best figures of 6 for 27. Moreover, his full analysis - 22.3-13-27-6 - was a fair reflection of his accuracy and it led one or two greybeards to recall the great days of Tom Cartwright and Derek Shackleton. Comparisons do not come any more honourable.
Durham's victory also has a wider significance. For one thing it takes Bancroft's side off the bottom of a Division Two table which is making the experts' forecasts look like March madness. At the halfway point of the Championship season Glamorgan, Derbyshire and Gloucestershire are in three of the top five places - just as everyone predicted. It can be argued with perfect justice that Durham are not out of the hunt for promotion, especially if they were to beat Lancashire at Sedbergh in a game beginning on Sunday. In the aftermath of victory, of course, one or two of their players may not be quite sure where Sedbergh is, but on one matter they can be reassured. It is, so far as we know, not on the road to Blaydon.
As for Sussex, their straightforward skipper, Ben Brown, identified their dropped catches on the first day and their inadequate batting on the second as contributory factors to their deserved defeat. Yet the odd thing about Brown's team at the moment is that all of them can bat and supporters feel just as confident about their prospects when they see Delray Rawlins coming in at No. 9 as they do when Harry Finch goes in first wicket down. Injuries to players like Phil Salt and Mir Hamza are not helping either but Durham's cricket this week may have been enough to defeat a full-strength side and it was far too good for Brown's batsmen on Thursday.
However, until Raine came on from the Sea End before lunch, Durham had not taken a wicket nor had they looked like doing so. The overnight pair, Stiaan van Zyl and Ollie Robinson, had batted with such assurance that it was tough to tell which of them was the nightwatchman. The pair had added 82 runs in 31 overs with van Zyl eventually joining his partner in taking the attack to the bowlers, a tactic which nearly decapitated James Weighell early in the session when he failed to see the ball after it had been savagely cut through point by Robinson off Chris Rushworth. It was hard to think Robinson could carry on like this for long but he did so and deep in the morning Sussex were entitled to ponder the possibility of an extraordinary recovery.
Then Raine began to bowl and the runs dried up. Each delivery maintained the tightest of lines between the middle stump and just outside the off. Van Zyl was dropped at first slip by Lees. Four overs later and on the point of lunch, the Sussex batsman nibbled fatally at another good ball and Ned Eckersley took the catch. The Durham players strode off and probably enjoyed their food a good deal more than had seemed likely an over previously.
Just after lunch they probably felt like nipping back in for an extra helping of crème brûlée. Raine's first ball after the resumption - the fourth of his uncompleted over - moved away a shade and took the edge of Laurie Evans' bat on the way to Eckersley. Brown avoided the hat-trick but four overs later was pinned leg before by an inswinger. The same fate befell David Wiese five balls later and Raine had removed all the specialist Sussex batsmen capable of piloting long-term resistance.
Robinson reached his fifty off 119 balls but his 54-run stand with Jordan merely delayed the end of the match. Rushworth had the nightwatchman caught at slip by Jack Burnham and the stage was prepared for Raine to complete a victory which will no doubt be properly celebrated by Durham's cricketers on their coach trip home. Indeed, come the morning one or two of them may have cause to visit Dr. Gibbs.
Paul Edwards is a freelance cricket writer. He has written for the Times, ESPNcricinfo, Wisden, Southport Visiter and other publications