Stokes heroics can't save Durham

Lv County Championship

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Ben Stokes

Ben Stokes launches a blistering assault during his maiden first-class ton, but it was not enough to stave off defeat

A blistering hundred by 18-year-old all-rounder Ben Stokes was not enough to save champions Durham from their first defeat in the LV= County Championship since August 2008, as Nottinghamshire wrapped up victory by an innings and 62 runs.

England Under-19 international Stokes, playing in only his fifth first-class match, struck three sixes and 16 fours on his way to 106 from 126 balls to become Durham’s second-youngest centurion in the championship.

The left-hander eventually fell to Paul Franks, while Darren Pattinson wrapped up the win by bowling Ben Harmison to finish with 4-95.

The victory propelled Notts to the top of the Division One table after their best start to a season since 1922, having won their opening four matches.

With Durham’s top four already back in the pavilion at the start of play this morning, the visitors always faced an uphill task to avoid defeat.

Their chances became slimmer after only four overs of play as Ian Blackwell drove loosely at Pattinson and only succeeded in looping the ball to mid-on.

Night-watchman Chris Rushworth fell in the next over, caught behind off Pattinson, but Stokes and Phil Mustard added 70 for the seventh wicket before Mustard fell to a brilliant leg-side stumping by Chris Read off the medium-pace of Steven Mullaney.

Stokes had played some attractive drives on either side of the wicket and was the dominant scorer in a partnership of 87 with Harmison.

He demonstrated his precocious confidence by reaching his century in emphatic fashion, hitting Samit Patel for four, six, six and four in consecutive balls before adrenalin got the better of him, as a pull off Franks fell to Mullaney at deep square-leg.

With his wicket went any remaining hopes of a draw, as Notts were able to take the new ball immediately, with Franks producing a swinging delivery to have Liam Plunkett caught at second slip in the next over.

Two brief rain interruptions only served to delay the Notts win, with Pattinson demolishing Harmison’s stumps two balls after tea. His brother, Steve, was unbeaten at the other end.

Victory gives Notts an eight-point lead over Yorkshire with a game in hand, while Durham find themselves 55 points behind and already seemingly seeing the championship trophy begin to slip from their grasp.