Thorp puts Durham within reach

Lv County Championship
Gareth Breese

Gareth Breese proved unmovable and he guided Durham to a total of 500

Callum Thorp and Gareth Breese produced inspired performances to put Durham in pole position to clinch the LV County Championship Division One title at Canterbury.

Breese resumed in the morning on 46 and went on to make 121, before Thorp claimed 5-61 to leave home side Kent in danger of crashing to defeat by an innings that could see them relegated to Division Two.

Durham had already established a first-innings lead on Thursday, and stretched that to 275 runs on day three before declaring on 500 for eight.

They then reduced Kent to 159 for five, meaning they will require a further 116 tomorrow just to make Durham bat again.

Kent will be relegated if they lose, while Durham could face a momentous day in their history tomorrow as a first championship title beckons.

Nottinghamshire had held an eight-point lead going into the final round of matches but they now appear unlikely to beat Hampshire.

Kent used eight bowlers in the morning but they all struggled to make an impression on not out Durham batsmen Breese and Phil Mustard.

Both brought up half-centuries with Mustard particularly brutal on off-spinner James Tredwell who he took for three successive fours through mid-wicket.

From 289 for six at the start of play, Durham had motored on to 428 before Mustard fell for 83 which came off 114 balls.

Breese, who had been on 93 at lunch, brought up his century shortly before his partner fell. The Jamaican's hundred included 11 fours and a six and came up off 182 balls, with a single to short fine leg off Tredwell taking him into three figures.

The stand of 148 runs for the seventh wicket was a Durham county record against Kent, and Breese and Paul Wiseman (34) then added 58 in 12 overs before the latter was held at deep mid-wicket off Joseph, whose final over of the innings cost 25.

Callum Thorp & Joe Denly

Joe Denly offers Callum Thorp a simple return catch for his second wicket as Kent's collapse began

Kent made a shocking start to their second innings and were three wickets down for just 17, with Australian Thorp claiming each victim.

Home captain Rob Key got a leading edge to present Shivnarine Chanderpaul with a catch at mid-off, out for nought.

Joe Denly then gave a return catch to the bowler and Martin van Jaarsveld's drive was held at cover by Dale Benkenstein.

Thorp struck again in successive overs after tea to leave Kent in disarray at 58 for five.

He trapped Geraint Jones (26) lbw with a delivery which kept low as the batsman shuffled across, and then he had Darren Stevens (18) held at first slip by Breese after getting the ball to lift and move away.

An unbroken stand of 101 for the sixth wicket between Justin Kemp and Ryan McLaren offered some hope for Kent at the close.

Kemp plundered 49 from 56 balls with six fours and a six, and Ryan McLaren reached 45 not out at a marginally more sedate pace.

But they required a heroic batting effort on the final day to stave off the threat of relegation and thwart Durham’s title hopes.

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