Stokes shines for defiant Durham

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Ben Stokes

Durham's Ben Stokes opted to use attack as the best form of defence against Somerset and struck a superb 120 from just 136 deliveries

Ben Stokes recorded his second century of the season as Durham batted out the final day to secure a draw against Somerset and prevent their opponents from taking over at the top of the LV= County Championship Division One table.

Despite losing their first two matches by an innings, Somerset knew that a maximum-point victory today would have seen them leapfrog Nottinghamshire at the summit and such a scenario appeared likely when Durham resumed this morning on 227 for three, still trailing by 146.

However, Stokes wiped out his side’s arrears in a fourth-wicket partnership of 170 with Dale Benkenstein, which ended when the 19-year-old was dismissed by Charl Willoughby for 120 from 136 deliveries, having struck 16 fours and two sixes.

Steve Kirby dismissed Benkenstein, who made a patient 66, and Ian Blackwell in successive overs later in the afternoon session to raise hopes of a Somerset win, but Durham skipper Phil Mustard and Scott Borthwick then shared an unbroken stand of 73 to steer their side to safety.

Warwickshire appear likely to move level with leaders Notts after strengthening their hold over Worcestershire on day three at Edgbaston.

An ECB pitch inspection preceded the third day’s play and batting once again proved difficult for both sides. Warwickshire’s Mohammad Yousuf and Rikki Clarke each received blows to the chest and Worcestershire’s Vikram Solanki was forced to retire hurt in his side’s second innings after he was struck on the head by Boyd Rankin.

After home debutant Chris Metters had struck with the first ball of the day to dismiss Alan Richardson - his sixth victim of the innings - and end Worcestershire’s first innings on 228, Warwickshire progressed to 173 for eight declared, a lead of 327, thanks largely to a quickfire 68 from Yousuf.

Naaqash Tahir then returned 3-8 from eight overs as Worcestershire slipped to 36 for three.

Yorkshire’s bid to force victory over Hampshire at Headingley Carnegie was also interrupted by showers, with the hosts 185 ahead on 62 for three in their second innings at stumps.

The visitors resumed on 189 for six and added just 43 to their total before being dismissed. Ajmal Shahzad completed a five-wicket haul with the scalp of Kabir Ali, while Ryan Sidebottom and Tim Bresnan were also among the wickets.

Matt Pardoe, Vikram Solanki, Darren Maddy, Varun Chopra & Boyd Rankin

Players from both sides gather to check on Vikram Solanki after the Worcestershire batsman was struck on the head at Edgbaston today

Yorkshire then lost openers Adam Lyth and Joe Sayers cheaply in reply, while Joe Root made 31 before becoming Dominic Cork’s second victim.

Captain Andrew Gale and the in-form Jonathan Bairstow will resume tomorrow on 16 and one respectively.

In Division Two, Wes Durston’s unbeaten 90 proved in vain as Derbyshire’s hopes of victory were scuppered by rain in their draw with Essex.

Chasing 223 after Essex had added just 49 runs to their overnight score of 282 for six, Derbyshire slumped to 26 for three as David Masters removed the top three for single-figure scores.

However, Durston continued his fine start to the season by striking 12 fours and a six and the former Somerset man was ably supported by knocks of 29 and 31 from Dan Redfern and Luke Sutton respectively as Derbyshire closed in on their target.

They required a further 21, with four wickets still in hand, to secure a second championship win of the season when the heavens opened to bring the match to an end.

Northamptonshire look well on course to claim a comfortable victory over Gloucestershire at Bristol - despite the best efforts of Will Gidman.

The all-rounder almost single-handedly led the rearguard action with a superb unbeaten 116 as Gloucestershire were all out for 288 in response to Northants’ mammoth 557.

Asked to follow-on, Gloucestershire looked like they would sink without trace when they slipped to 73 for six, with Jack Brooks following up his four-wicket haul in the first innings with 3-43.

Still needing another 196 runs to make Northants bat again, Gidman once again came to Gloucestershire’s rescue with 76 not out and was backed up by Jon Lewis, who bludgeoned 59 off 49 balls as Gloucestershire closed on 247 for eight - still 22 runs adrift.

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