Stokes shines brightest for Durham

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Ben Stokes & Gareth Cross

Ben Stokes exhibits his proficiency through the off side en route to 185 for Durham against Lancashire. The 19-year-old has now scored 609 championship runs this summer at an average of 55

A triumphant day for Durham’s Ben Stokes ended with him rushing from the field with a dislocated finger in a one-sided LV= County Championship match against Lancashire.

Stokes suffered the blow when trying to catch a fierce cut from Paul Horton and it seems certain to cut short his run of outstanding form.

It should not affect the result at the Emirates Durham ICG, though, as two overs from the close Horton was caught behind for 34 to give Graham Onions a second wicket. Lancashire closed on 69 for three, needing a further 204 to avoid an innings defeat.

Stokes earlier became the second batsman to clear the Don Robson Pavilion, twice hitting off-spinner Steven Croft over the top in his career-best 185, which beat his 161 at Canterbury last year.

Kevin Pietersen is the only other batsman to have achieved the feat - twice for Nottinghamshire in a Sunday League match in 2003.

After Stokes did it for the second time he went for the same shot over midwicket and was bowled by Croft.

He had also shared Durham’s record stand for any wicket in the championship, putting on 331 with Dale Benkenstein, whose fourth century of the season ended on 137 when he edged a drive at Luke Procter to wicketkeeper Gareth Cross.

Benkenstein was also involved in the previous record of 315, shared with Ottis Gibson at Headingley in the final match of 2006 to save Durham from relegation.

They have come a long way since then and will almost certainly take over at the top from Lancashire, who started this match three points clear, after claiming eight bonus points to their opponents’ four.

Durham collected maximum batting points for the fifth time in eight games before they were eventually all out for 586.

Benkenstein was the more fluent in the morning, adding 66 runs while Stokes struggled to regain the superb form which took him to his century off the last ball yesterday.

Stokes was beaten several times when Lancashire took the new ball and offered chances on 84, 106 and 167, all to Paul Horton at slip.

Stokes hit two sixes in his 272-ball innings, while Phil Mustard had three in a 44-ball half-century.

When he was last out for 61, paddling Gary Keedy to short fine-leg, it was only his third dismissal of the season and reduced his average to 122.

There were brisk contributions from Ian Blackwell and Callum Thorp as Durham added 307 runs in 69 overs before leaving themselves with 25 overs to bowl.

In the seventh Onions skidded one through to have Stephen Moore lbw and in the 13th Thorp’s inswinger pinned Karl Brown in front.

Finally, Horton tried to cut Onions and got a bottom edge to Mustard.

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