Durham face uphill task
Durham will need to bat out the final day to avoid defeat after Nottinghamshire’s batsmen made hay to establish a first-innings lead of 341 in their LV= County Championship Division One clash at Trent Bridge.
Ali Brown smashed 134 from 121 balls, Chris Read made an unbeaten 124 and Paul Franks added a quickfire 64 as the hosts declared on 559 for eight.
After losing three early wickets to slip to 226 for six, Brown and Read put on 237 in just 42 overs, Nottinghamshire’s second-highest seventh-wicket partnership, with 226 runs added in all during the afternoon session.
In a chastening day for the defending champions, England bowlers Steve Harmison and Liam Plunkett both conceded 100 runs and then saw their team lose four wickets in the evening session to close on 88, still trailing by 254.
Resuming on 191 for three, Notts got off to the worst possible start when Mark Wagh drove optimistically at the first ball of the day from Chris Rushworth and was caught at second slip for 44.
Samit Patel was lbw four overs later and when Steven Mullaney gave Rushworth his third wicket with another catch for Di Venuto at second slip, Notts were in a spot of bother.
Brown and Read soon turned the tide with some swift running between the wickets before unfurling plenty of big shots as the day progressed.
Brown brought up his second hundred for Notts, and the 46th of his first-class career, from just 102 balls, and went on to hit 17 fours and three sixes before he was caught by Phil Mustard attempting to tip Plunkett over the wicketkeeper for another boundary.
Notts skipper Read, who survived one chance on 87 when he was caught off a Ben Stokes no-ball, struck 15 fours and a six on his way past 10,000 career runs.
Franks, who was dropped off his first ball by Ben Harmison at gully, used the opportunity to hit 11 fours and one mighty six off Steve Harmison over wide midwicket, before the bowler got a measure of revenge with a fine catch from Mustard from an inside edge.
With the wicket falling on the stroke of tea, Read promptly declared to give his side 32 overs to bowl at the visitors, who soon found themselves in more trouble.
Kyle Coetzer and Di Venuto shared a stand of 49 before the latter was caught by Neil Edwards off Darren Pattinson for 29.
The dismissals of Will Smith and Dale Benkenstein further rocked Durham, who lost the vital wicket of Coetzer just before the close when he was lbw to Charlie Shreck for 45.
Coetzer’s innings contained seven boundaries but his dismissal left them wobbling on 87 for four.