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Chester-le-Street, August 31 - September 03, 2014, LV= County Championship Division One
253 & 309
(T:375) 188 & 320

Durham won by 54 runs


Ageless Keedy proves shrewd selection

Durham 253 and 196 for 7 (Collingwood 38*, Keedy 4-56) lead Nottinghamshire 188 (Hastings 4-64) by 261 runs
Gary Keedy supported his own argument that age need not be a barrier to continuing to play cricket by producing a performance that may keep Nottinghamshire firmly in the title race. Out of his semi-retirement to bolster a depleted team, he took 4 for 56 from 18 overs, holding back Durham's bid to build a match-winning lead.
The former Lancashire left-arm spinner had been tidy but wicketless in his 12 first-innings overs. This time he had success with his first delivery when Mark Stoneman was caught behind and by dismissing Keaton Jennings, Scott Borthwick and the Australian allrounder John Hastings has given his team the belief that they can emerge from this game with what will feel like an unexpected victory.
Keedy will be 40 in November but dismisses that biological milestone as irrelevant to his immediate future in the game. "I don't see age as a barrier," he said. "As long as I can keep myself fit and bowling well I will continue as long as I can. I'd play another five years if my body will let me."
Whether that will be at Nottinghamshire remains to be seen but after proving his value in other ways, as assistant physio and a coach to the county's younger spin bowlers, he offers good value. What's more, three years after taking 61 wickets to help Lancashire win the Championship in what would be his last full season, he demonstrated here that the skills he has been refining over 20 seasons in the game are still in good order.
"I've been bowling my overs and playing the odd second-team game so I'm not short of practice, although I was maybe lacking in terms of match play a little bit," he added.
"But I settled down and got into my rhythm quite quickly and enjoyed bowling in a match where arguably I did not expect to play. Historically not much spin is bowled here but the pitch is very dry and we thought the it would spin as the game wore on and that has proved to be the case, starting to take turn at the end of day two."
Nottinghamshire must be congratulating themselves in their wisdom at taking the Keedy option after a performance with the bat that was some way short of their own standards. Wobbling at 66 for 4 overnight after Samit Patel's last-ball dismissal, they were all out for 188.
For once their middle order could not get them out of trouble. Riki Wessels passed 1000 first-class runs in a season for the first time in his career but was undone by some good bowling by Chris Rushworth, who set him up nicely for the ball that squared him up and found the edge, Calum MacLeod taking the catch at gully.
Wessels has been in outstanding form this summer and looked in the mood to score highly again and Nottinghamshire never properly recovered from his departure. Paul Collingwood produced a lovely ball to draw James Franklin into a shot that he could only edge to second slip and Chris Read, uncharacteristically, did not spot or thought he could defeat the trap set for him by Hastings and obligingly hooked one straight to deep backward square.
Ajmal Shahzad did a useful job to add 30 and so limit the deficit to 65 but he had an escape on 18 and it still seemed Nottinghamshire would struggle to find a way back into the contest, more so when Durham openers Stoneman and Jennings put on 51 in 11 overs against some average new ball bowling.
But when Keedy stepped up, Stoneman tickled his first delivery into the gloves of wicketkeeper Chris Read, who took a second catch as Jennings made a mess of an attempted sweep.
Michael Richardson was run out after a mix-up with left-hander Scott Borthwick, thanks to some fine work on the boundary by substitute fielder Luke Wood and some quick thinking by Franklin, the bowler, who saw Richardson trying to complete a third run as Borthwick gave up the ghost after two and propelled the ball to Read, who broke the wicket with Richardson, by then on the retreat, still well out of his ground.
Borthwick himself became Keedy's third victim when he went back to a ball that spun out of the rough and bowled him. Hastings likewise played back rather than getting forward and was leg before as Keedy struck again.
Collingwood was typically stubborn and awkward with the bat, driven by his goal of dragging Durham clear of the relegation places, and his partnership with Paul Coughlin for the eighth wicket has extended their lead to 261. By his own admission, though, there is still work to be done and Nottinghamshire will fancy any target under 300.

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