Wickets tumble at Chester-le-Street

Lv County Championship

Andrew Flintoff

Andrew Flintoff enjoyed a succesful return with the ball but England colleague Steve Harmison bowled him for only three

When Andrew Flintoff took the first two wickets of the day with successive balls he could not have envisaged a further 16 wickets falling on an extraordinary day at Chester-le-Street.

On a blameless pitch there were no wickets in the final 13 overs as Ian Blackwell and Callum Thorp added 65 to take Durham to 122 for six in their second innings, 240 runs ahead.

They were 10 for four when Blackwell went in and rode his luck to reach 65 at the close, having survived the easiest of chances to wicketkeeper Luke Sutton off Flintoff on 18.

Thorp was also badly missed by Glen Chapple at deep mid-on off Gary Keedy, completing a bad day for the Lancashire captain after his superb bowling on the first day.

Chapple was out second ball as Lancashire were dismissed for 116, their lowest championship score against Durham, with Graham Onions and Steve Harmison taking four wickets each.

After Phil Mustard completed a half-century in the morning he and Harmison fell to Flintoff, who finished with 4-47 in his first game back after knee surgery.

But he scored only three runs before Harmison returned the compliment, forcing him to play on off the fifth ball after lunch.

After the first day’s play Flintoff observed: “This is a good pitch and if we can get a big total we can put Durham under pressure.”

It didn’t turn out that way, although there was an element of controversy about the fall of Lancashire’s first two wickets.

Australia-born Paul Horton and South African Ashwell Prince both showed a huge reluctance to depart when given out by umpire Neil Mallender.

The former was caught down the leg side by Mustard and the latter was lbw.

Mallender also gave out Mal Loye leg before, with those first three wickets going to Onions - continuing his purple patch in another excellent display.

When Durham batted again they blocked out three maidens before Michael Di Venuto tried to pull Sajid Mahmood and lobbed a catch to mid-on.

Two overs later Mark Stoneman edged the same bowler to Flintoff at second slip, and it became three for three in the 12th over when Will Smith edged Mahmood to Sutton.

Flintoff’s opening six-over burst cost only one run and when Chapple replaced him he had Dale Benkenstein caught in the slips for the second time in the match.

Flintoff’s only reward in the second innings was to have Mustard caught behind, but he had conceded only seven runs off 10 overs until Blackwell took 10 off his 11th.