Durham seal back-to-back titles
Durham retained their LV= County Championship Division One title after wrapping up an innings-and-52-run victory on the final afternoon of their game against Nottinghamshire.
The north-east county, who headed into the game against their second-placed rivals needing to capture 11 points, clinched the win with 22 when Steve Harmison bowled Mark Ealham for 18 to spark jubilant celebrations at a packed, sun-drenched Riverside.
Ealham’s dismissal ended Nottinghamshire resistance in their second innings, the visitors dismissed for 212 after being asked to follow on from their first-innings score of 384.
In truth, however, they never looked like making the hosts bat again given Durham had racked up a colossal 648 for five declared in their only innings.
Durham’s total, as well as being the highest first-class score by the county, proved match-defining as they ended the game with three centurions and one double centurion. Notts completed the game without any of their batting-line up making it to three figures.
Indeed, their highest tally came from youngster Alex Hales as he passed 50 in both innings. The youngster scoring a creditable second-innings 78, his highest first-class score.
It was Hales and nightwatchman Darren Pattinson who originally began the last day at the crease for Notts on 52 for two.
Pattinson hung around for all of three balls as he was cleaned up by Liam Plunkett’s third ball of the day that uprooted his off-stump, with new batsman Samit Patel also coming and going quickly when he hooked Harmison safely into the hands of Mark Davies at fine-leg. Both had scored a meagre four runs.
With Notts in pain at 61 for four, Hales also wore more than one delivery from the excellent Plunkett, the seamer also regularly nipping past the outside edge during a quick opening spell.
The 20-year-old dug in, however, and went to a deserved half-century with a cracking pull off Davies through midwicket.
He was ably supported by Bilal Shafayat as they negated Durham’s attack for 25 comfortable overs.
However, Hales unfortunately sold Shafayat short with a poor attempted single to Shivnarine Chanderpaul at point, the West Indian throwing down to the stumps to see him off for 32.
Hales and Ali Brown looked at ease for a short period as they took the score past 150. The pair both looked in excellent touch before Durham’s uncanny knack of prizing out a wicket occurred once more.
It was Hales who succumbed when, having looked certain to reach three figures for the first time in his fledgling first-class career, Ian Blackwell located his inside edge to have him taken by Kyle Coetzer at short-leg.
A scoreboard which read 163 for six soon became 187 for seven as Brown departed for 28. The right-hander failed to get his bat down quickly enough on a searing Plunkett delivery that cannoned into the stumps via an inside edge.
The same bowler collected Read’s wicket lbw for 24 soon afterwards and, with the writing well and truly on the wall, Harmison enticed Luke Fletcher into a waft that ended in the hands of Coetzer at third slip.
Charlie Shreck’s admirable appearance as a number 11 hampered with a knee injury lasted only a matter of overs as Ealham was bowled by Harmison, the tall fast bowler deservedly raising aloft a stump to signal Durham’s victory as they left the field to a rapturous ovation.