James Hildreth hit a breathtaking 146 not out and Lewis Gregory an unbeaten 105 as Somerset began their Royal London One-Day Cup campaign with a five-wicket victory over Durham in a high-scoring game at Taunton.
The visitors posted a challenging 311 for seven after winning the toss, Paul Collingwood leading the way with 113, including 12 fours and three sixes while Keaton Jennings made 45, Phil Mustard 40 and Gareth Breese 34 not out.
In reply, Somerset slipped to 106 for five before Hildreth was joined by Gregory in an exhilarating unbroken stand of 209 – a sixth-wicket record for the county in List A cricket - which thrilled a 4,000 crowd and enabled the hosts to reach their target with 20 balls to spare.
Hildreth faced 134 balls, hitting 13 fours and three sixes, while Gregory’s career-best score came off 71 deliveries, with 13 fours and one maximum. Their partnership occupied just 145 balls.
Earlier, Durham lost three wickets in making 37 from their initial 10 overs of power play. Opener Mark Stoneman had made only three when he cut a simple catch to George Dockrell at backward point off Gregory.
It was 25 for two when Colin Ingram at midwicket took a sharp catch to send back Calum McLeod for 10, with Tim Groenewald the successful bowler.
And that became 36 for three when Scott Borthwick, on six, was run out by Gregory’s throw to wicketkeeper Alex Barrow from mid-on, having hesitated in answering Mustard’s call for a quick single.
Left-arm spinner Dockrell felt the weight of Collingwood’s bat in the 23rd over with a four and six over long-on. Mustard ended the same over with a straight six, but fell shortly afterwards for 40, caught behind aiming to cut Craig Overton.
It was another six off the expensive Dockrell that took Collingwood to his 50 off 49 balls. He shared a century stand in 14.3 overs with Jennings, who hit seven fours before being well caught at deep midwicket by Dockrell off Alfonso Thomas.
— Somerset Cricket (@SomersetCCC) July 27, 2014
Collingwood reached an immaculate hundred off 83 balls, with 10 fours and three sixes, in the 39th over. He eventually fell to a stunning one-handed catch at extra cover by former England team-mate Marcus Trescothick, diving to his left.
From 237 for six, Durham finished strongly. Breese and Gordon Muchall, who carried his bat on 29, adding 54 in 5.3 overs after John Hastings had provided Dockrell with a third catch and Gronewald, who finished with 2-44, with a second wicket.
Somerset’s top order failed as it had done so often in the NatWest T20 Blast, Trescothick, Nick Compton and Peter Trego all falling in the first six overs with only 21 on the board as Graham Onions struck twice.
Ingram helped Hildreth steady things with a stand of 82 in 15 overs, but when the South African left-hander was stumped stretching forward to sweep Breese for 31 and Barrow quickly followed via the same method to Collingwood for a duck, Somerset looked out of it.
A feature of the stand between Hildreth and Gregory was their scampering between the wickets, putting pressure on the Durham fielders. But both also cleared the ropes and struck numerous handsome boundaries.
Hildreth reached his hundred with a sweet square driven four off Jennings, having faced 104 balls and hit 10 fours and a six. There are few more attractive batsmen to watch at their best in the county game.
Gregory lost nothing by comparison, moving to a 40-ball half-century, with four fours and a solitary maximum, and matching his partner shot-for-shot in reaching a near faultless maiden hundred.
Collingwood took consolation from his side's performance in a memorable game, saying: "The quality of cricket played by both teams was outstanding. When a lad comes in at number seven and hits a 70-ball hundred you have to take your hat off to him.
"But we were in control of the game for long periods and that is something to take forward into our next match."
Hildreth paid tribute to his batting partner, adding: "So much credit goes to Lewis Gregory because he played a fantastic innings and took a lot of the pressure off me. It was a great partnership to be involved in and I enjoyed every minute."