Durham edge wicket-fest
Durham took command against Worcestershire as 19 wickets fell on an enthralling opening day of their LV= County Championship Division One match at the Emirates Durham ICG.
Chris Rushworth claimed career-best figures of 5-44 as the bottom-of-the-table visitors subsided for 120, and it took 78 from Ben Stokes to prove the pitch was no minefield.
After Durham slipped to eight for two, he was helped in a stand of 72 by Keaton Jennings, who also looked comfortable in making 30 in his third championship match.
Yet when Stokes was bowled off his pads aiming towards midwicket, he became the first of five victims for Gareth Andrew.
Stokes had not made a fifty in any form of cricket since scoring 66 in the match against Warwickshire in early June, but hit 12 powerfully-struck fours in scoring his runs off 90 balls.
That was the best effort thus far in Durham’s innings as they finished on 215 for nine.
After being put in, the only answer Worcestershire’s top order could find to Graham Onions and Rushworth came from number three Matt Pardoe, who applied himself well to make 36.
Although there was some seam movement, swing caused most of the problems and, within 10 overs, the visitors were rocking on 26 for five.
Rushworth struck in the second over when Daryl Mitchell pushed forward and edged to second slip.
Onions, again bowling superbly after his nine-wicket haul in the first innings against Nottinghamshire last week, then found extra bounce to take the shoulder of Phil Hughes’ bat as the Australian was taken at third slip.
The England seamer then pinned Moeen Ali lbw before Rushworth bowled Vikram Solanki, who was playing forward defensively, and yorked Neil Pinner two balls later.
Rushworth completed his five-wicket haul after lunch, when Worcestershire’s tailenders opted to slog. Andrew and Ben Scott fell to skied catches before Alan Richardson backed away and was bowled first ball by Onions, who finished with 3-27.
Richardson evidently wanted to bowl and struck with his fifth ball when in-form opener Mark Stoneman was trapped in front.
Will Smith’s lean run continued as he miscued a pull to be caught at mid-on for three off Chris Russell, who later bowled Jennings through an intended straight drive.
After Stokes departed to make it 131 for four, there was a steady procession with all-but Callum Thorp, who played on, falling to edged catches as Andrew found some swing.
Durham were 193 for nine when Rushworth joined Scott Borthwick, and they ensured their side picked up only their 13th batting point in the 14th match.
They closed with an impressive lead and will expect to move clear of danger by earning their fourth successive win.