Division Two basement side Durham had much the better of promotion-chasing Kent during a cut and thrust opening day to their Specsavers County Championship encounter in Canterbury.
With their veteran skipper Paul Collingwood leading from the front with an unbeaten 93, Durham rallied after losing a brace of wickets in each of the first two sessions to go in at stumps on 318 for five with three batting bonus points after Collingwood and fifth-wicket partner Ryan Pringle (71) had combined either side of tea to add 141 in 42.3 overs.
Collingwood, one of only six players from both sides still surviving from the previous Championship clash between these two counties in 2010, escaped a couple of concerted appeals for lbw, but otherwise appeared untroubled against a useful Kent attack that, for the first time, included Pakistan mystery spinner Yasir Shah.
Batting first after winning the toss, Durham openers Stephen Cook and Keaton Jennings did well to survive tight, new-ball bursts by Matt Coles and Darren Stevens. Having posted a first-wicket stand of 79, both departed within seven deliveries.
Jennings lost his off stump to Will Gidman’s sixth ball of the match, a skidding leg-cutter, to go for 43, then, in the next over, Cook, having mustered a patient 25, played across the line to a full delivery from Coles to exit lbw.
Yasir came on at the Nackington Road End for the customary over before lunch, but was guilty of under-pitching in his maiden over in Championship cricket. His 20 wicketless overs throughout the day cost 60 runs. The same could not be said of Stevens who, soon after the interval, drew Graham Clark (13) forward with an away-swinger that feathered the bat for a catch behind by Adam Rouse.
The veteran Kent all-rounder then bamboozled 21-year-old Cameron Steel (34) who pushed inside the line at one that nipped off the pitch to clip the top of off stump. Kent ought to have had a fifth victim when Pringle, on eight, edged an attempted drive against Coles into the cordon only for Gidman to down a regulation, waist-high chance at second slip.
Four down at tea but with a first batting bonus point in the bank, Collingwood must have been content with his side’s work over the first couple of sessions, but things improved immeasurably after tea.
On a personal note, the 41-year-old went past 500 Championship runs for the season and 16,000 in his first-class career in posting his fourth 50 of the campaign from 84 balls and with eight fours. Then Pringle reached his 50 from 92 balls and with eight boundaries.
Pringle finally went to the second new ball for a season’s best 71 after spending 158 minutes at the crease. Coles got one to dart down the St Lawrence slope and take the toe end of the bat for Rouse to pull off a tumbling catch behind the timbers.
At the day’s start, Kent had accommodated Yasir by jettisoning James Tredwell, the county’s beneficiary for 2017, from their squad. The former England off-spinner has bowled only 32.4 overs to date this summer for a modest return of two for 106.
James Harris, the Middlesex loanee instrumental in wrapping up Kent’s latest win against Sussex in Tunbridge Wells last month, has since returned to his parent club. Durham, who have a host of injuries, gave a first-team debut to teenage all-rounder Matthew Potts, a graduate of the county academy system.