Stokes goes close to six of the best

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Ben Stokes

Ben Stokes opens his shoulders en route to a dazzling unbeaten 135 for Durham. The England Lions all-rounder had earlier returned 6-68

Durham’s Ben Stokes came close to earning a place in the record books in the LV= County Championship Division One match against Hampshire today.

Stokes hit the first five balls of an over from Hampshire's Liam Dawson for six - but could only manage a single off the last delivery.

The 19-year-old England Lions all-rounder was the star of the show as Durham continued to dominate proceedings on day three at the Rose Bowl.

Stokes wrapped up the Hampshire first innings with three wickets in one over and finished with career-best figures of 6-68 as the hosts posted 294 in reply to Durham’s 473.

He then struck an unbeaten 135 and only failed to match the infamous six-hitting heroics of Sir Garfield Sobers - for Glamorgan against Nottinghamshire in 1968 - when he edged the final ball of Dawson’s sixth over to fine-leg.

Durham captain Phil Mustard declared soon afterwards on 310 for three, with Stokes having hit 13 fours and six maximums in his remarkable 145-ball innings.

At that stage, with first-innings centurion Dale Benkenstein 55 not out, Durham were able to set Hampshire an improbable 490 to win in three sessions and 20 overs.

Openers Jimmy Adams and Dawson rallied well and finished unbeaten on 47 and 35 respectively as the hosts closed on 87 without loss.

Hampshire resumed the third day at 280 for six and Stokes was in the middle of the action straight away.

The medium-pacer, who had claimed three top-order wickets yesterday, hustled out Dominic Cork, Danny Briggs and Simon Jones in a five-ball spell to put Durham firmly in control.

In the previous over, Callum Thorp had sent back Nic Pothas for 56, but with a healthy first-innings lead of 179, Mustard declined the opportunity to enforce the follow-on.

Hampshire were hampered immediately by injuries to former England bowlers Jones and Cork.

Jones managed only nine balls before limping off with a groin strain, and Cork's contribution was only 14 balls before he too was forced out of the attack with a similar problem.

Durham made the most of their absence and Michael Di Venuto and Scott Borthwick put on 45 for the first wicket before two big partnerships took the match away from the hosts.

Stokes and Gordon Muchall put on 88 for the third wicket, then Stokes and Benkenstein hammered home their advantage on a gentle-paced wicket with a stand of 140 for the fourth.

When Mustard declared, Durham were a formidable 310 for three, but Hampshire openers Adams and Dawson found batting just as easy as their opponents had done.

Even with another former England bowler, Steve Harmison, available after recovering from a hand injury sustained earlier in the match, Durham were soon on the defensive and were unable to make a breakthrough before the close.

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