Durham battle to victory

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Keith Barker

Keith Barker registered a maiden first-class century but it was ultimately in vain as Durham claimed a hard-fought victory at Warwickshire

Durham overcame dogged resistance from Warwickshire’s lower order, led by Keith Barker’s maiden century, as well as another injury problem for Steve Harmison to claim an innings-and-103-run victory at Edgbaston.

Barker only came into the match on the third day, taking over from Will Porterfield when Ireland’s captain was released to prepare for two one-day internationals against Pakistan.

Although not a direct replacement – a bowling all-rounder for an opening batsman – Barker made 101 from 156 balls and put on 117 with Naqaash Tahir, who was last out after digging in for nearly four hours for a career-best 53.

Durham’s fourth win of the season – and their second against Warwickshire in a month – was wrapped up when they dismissed the home team for 313.

They had only 54 balls to spare after toiling through 69 overs to take the last three wickets but their triumph ensured they moved to within three points of Lancashire prior to meeting the Division One leaders at the Emirates Durham ICG on Sunday.

Harmison, who missed the final session on the third day because of a back strain, dismissed Rikki Clarke for 46 in a five-over spell before lunch. However he was absent for the rest of the day and will continue his treatment on Saturday in the hope of being fit to face Lancashire.

Warwickshire resumed in a dire situation, trailing by 381 with seven wickets remaining, and they added 36 before losing their overnight pair in three balls.

Jim Troughton was caught behind for 28, driving at an away-swinger to give Ben Stokes his seventh wicket in the match, and in a similar dismissal Darren Maddy edged to third slip in the next over from Callum Thorp after making 25.

Harmison was not allowed to bowl in the first hour and Warwickshire lost another wicket – Tim Ambrose falling leg before to Ruel Brathwaite – before the former England bowler joined the attack.

Clarke smacked his first ball through the covers and continued to play positively until he drove at another delivery outside off stump and gave a routine catch to wicketkeeper-captain Phil Mustard.

Durham were then taken aback by the scale of Warwickshire’s resistance. Barker went for his shots, hitting 16 fours, and Tahir defended stoutly when Mustard called up his spinners, Scott Borthwick and Ian Blackwell.

It was Blackwell who finally did for Barker with the help of a slip catch by Michael Di Venuto in the last over before tea, but there was more frustration for Durham when Chris Metters stayed with Tahir for 25 overs.

They put on 55 before Braithwaite snaffled the last two wickets. Having bowled Metters for 25, he got one to lift at Tahir and the resulting edge – from the 195th ball of an epic innings – was well taken by Thorp at fourth slip.

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