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Durham lift maiden 50+ County Championship

Durham won their first ECB 50+ County Championship title with a 30-run victory over Essex in the final at Kibworth Cricket Club in Leicestershire yesterday.

Nick Thompson top-scored with 41 and then took 2-18 as Durham, who were appearing in their first final in the competition’s 29-year history, took the Brian Aspital Trophy to the north-east.

Essex elected to field on a wicket that looked like it would offer some early assistance but Keith Smith and Tony Birbeck’s explosive start took Durham to 62 before the first wicket fell, Tim Smith bowling Durham captain Birbeck for 18.

Durham's victorious players and staff celebrate their maiden ECB 50+ County Championship success following a 30-run victory against Essex in the final at Kibworth Cricket Club

Tim Smith then trapped namesake Keith leg before for 37 in his next set of six to leave Durham 63 for two.

Thompson kept up the momentum of the opening pair but Jim Mathewson could add just two before being caught by Tim Smith off Chris Gladwin’s bowling.

But Thompson enjoyed fruitful partnerships with Gary Purcell and Shaun McKenna to take Durham’s score up to 141 before he was ousted by Richard MacGregor nine runs short of a fifty.

Ian Pont then accounted for McKenna before Tim Smith returned to add both Andrew Fothergill and Steve Wilkinson to his four-wicket haul.

David Anderson and Keith Chapman added late runs, an unbeaten 14 and 11 respectively, as Durham posted 185 for eight.

Chapman removed openers Neil Brathwaite and Kevin Grant as Essex were reduced to 40 for two early in their reply.

Purcell trapped Pont lbw 19 and Chris Gladwin added 28 before he was run out by Keith Smith.

Purcell then bowled Shahed Iqbal to leave Essex to 84 for five but Peter Rider and Joseph Pierre combined to push their side over the 100-mark.

However, Thompson backed up his batting performance by removing them both and Birbeck rounded off the victory with the last three wickets as Durham ended the Essex innings with 14 balls to spare.

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