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19th September 2019 Match Reports

Ned Eckersley finishes unbeaten as Durham go down against Northants

Northants 217 & 315 (Proctor 86, Levi 60, Rossington 52; BA Raine 4/69) beat Durham 131 & 232 (EJH Eckersley 67, JTA Burnham 45, BA Carse 30;  BA Hutton 5/59) by 169 runs 

Northamptonshire took just eight overs on the final morning to take a giant stride towards Division One of the Specsavers County Championship by wrapping up a mighty victory over Durham by 169 runs under cloudless skies.

The home side looked to be wrapping up victory inside three days when Durham lost their seventh second-innings wicket in the 46th over but captain Ned Eckersley played another innings of admirable obduracy. This time facing 134 balls for an a deserved unbeaten 67.

But he couldn’t shield the tail from the second new ball. Matt Salisbury blocked back 55 balls on the third evening but lasted only eight more deliveries into the fourth morning. Brett Hutton swung a ball away that started on middle and leg, beat Salisbury’s outside edge and had him plumb lbw on the back foot. It completed a second five-wicket haul of the season for Hutton and he finished with 5 for 59.

Hutton and Ben Sanderson have proved a lethal new-ball combination since Hutton’s return to fitness and it was Sanderson who took the final wicket as Chris Rushworth poked a length ball to Ben Curran at point to record a 19-ball duck.

The margin of victory reflected Northants dominance of the game from the moment captain Adam Rossington launched a brutal assault on the first afternoon when his side were struggling at 150 for 8. He now boasts an impressive record of five wins and three draws from eight matches since taking over from Alex Wakely in May

Durham were left to reflect on a tame end to their promotion challenge after arriving in Northampton with a wet sail after going unbeaten in eight matches and winning five of those games. But they were outplayed and captain Eckersley was the only batsman to show sufficient resistance against Northants probing attack.

“Our captain played very well even though we knew the end was nigh,” said Durham Lead High Performance Coach James Franklin.

“Ned showed what quality he has as a performer and a leader and can be really pleased with what he has achieved in this Championship year.

“This week might have been a hangover from going to Lord’s and getting an amazing win there. That was a big occasion for some of our younger players who had not played there before. I am not making excuses, these are professional players, but it’s also a young squad.”

Northants 217 & 315 (Proctor 86, Levi 60, Rossington 52; BA Raine 4/69) lead Durham 131 & 212/8 (EJH Eckersley 54*, JTA Burnham 45, BA Carse 30;  BA Hutton 4/54) by 190 runs

Durham captain Ned Eckersley made sure Durham’s Specsavers County Championship clash against Northants will go the final day, after battling hard at Wantage Road.

Ned Eckersley’s stubborn 54 not out in 117 balls allowed Durham to survive to the close of day three, albeit in a hopeless position at 212 for 8 requiring 402 to win.

Northants enjoyed another excellent day, adding 90 runs on the third morning thanks to Luke Procter’s season’s best 86 not out. The target always appeared fanciful and a second superb bowling display by the home attack moved them towards an big victory.

Brett Hutton gave the fourth innings the perfect start with two wickets in the half hour Durham were left before lunch. A full delivery swung into the left-handed Alex Lees, who shouldered arms and lost his off stump, before ending a tortured stay of Angus Robson who was dropped behind the wicket, survived a huge caught behind appeal and eventually feathered a catch to Rossington.

Hutton picked up a third wicket with Cameron Steel squared up and lbw for only 8 just after lunch and then another after tea as a big inswinger cleaned up Ben Raine driving lavishly.

Durham did find a partnership mid-afternoon with BJ Watling and Jack Burnham adding 66 in 21.3 overs. Watling edged a lifter from Gareth Berg wide of the slips cordon but survived to drive Berg through mid-on and Doug Bracewell through mid-off. He also inside-edged Procter narrowly past his stumps but responded with a sweet extra-cover drive. Procter won the war though, with a full delivery that moved in to knock out off stump and remove Watling for 35.

Burnham also couldn’t last until tea. He narrowly avoided edging a rising ball from Bracewell that he pushed at but generally left well and also drove smartly when possible to make 45. But with four overs until the break, he followed a ball from Procter that left him, edged, and was splendidly caught by Rossington diving full length to his right.

In between those wickets, Scott Steel the pushed at Ben Sanderson and was bowled.

Ned Eckersley again resisted well, showing the gumption his colleagues up the order lacked. The Durham captain shared a fifty stand with Brydon Carse that held up Northants. Carse slashed Bracewell to third slip for 30, only for Matt Salisbury to block back 55 balls for 2 to help take the match into day four.

Northamptonshire actually began the day on the back foot. Resuming 235 for 6 with a lead of 321, they lost two wickets in seven balls – Bracewell slashing Raine to first slip before Berg fended at Chris Rushworth to give Angus Robson another catch. Hutton pulled two boundaries but carved Brydon Carse to point for 16.

But just as Durham hoped to take some momentum into the fourth innings, Procter wrested it back. He fiercely pulled Carse for four and then hoisted him over the covered stand at deep square for six. He turned Raine for four to fine leg for another boundary before launching a second six over long-on that landed on the roof of the dressing rooms and bounced into the car park.

He jumped in the air to play a tennis-style swat through midwicket for four more and reached a season’s best unbeaten 86 before Ben Sanderson was last man out lbw for 14 to Carse. The final wicket added 51 and pushed Northants to 315 and a lead of 401.

Northants 217 & 235/6 (Levi 60, Rossington 52; Raine 3/53) lead Durham 131 (Sanderson 6/54) by 321 runs

Durham have it all to do at the halfway-point of their Specsavers County Championship game against Northamptonshire after being bowled out for 131 on the second day at Wantage Road.

Only some late resistance from Ned Eckersley (37) and the bowlers allowed Durham to get within 100 of Northants first innings total, but despite reducing the hosts to 65/4 in the second innings, Adam Rossington and Richard Levi gave the home side the impetus going into day three.

Resuming 37 for 4 replying to 217, Sanderson struck twice in the second over of the day to remove both overnight batsmen with balls that seamed back. Scott Steel was glued to the crease in losing his middle stump before Jack Burnham was also beaten on the inside edge to fall lbw, giving Sanderson a third five-wicket haul of the season.
At 42 for 6, the follow-on was a genuine concern but Ned Eckersley – who might have been dropped at second slip on 7 – and Raine found some desperately needed resistance. Leaving and defending well, the pair shared 57 for the seventh wicket in 22.2 overs.
Rossington was forced to return to his new ball pair and it was Hutton who found the breakthrough with an in-swinger to find Raine’s inside edge, the left-hander’s defence too tentative and he fell for a stubborn 18 in 62 balls.
Eckersley’s 78 ball stay was also ended by Hutton and an outstanding piece of wicketkeeping by Rossington, who up to the stumps claimed a full leg-side delivery and took out leg stump as Eckersley fell out of his ground and walked off having top-scored with 37.
Another Sanderson nip-backer removed Carse’s off stump for 7 and Salisbury edged a Gareth Berg bumper to Rossington.
Leading by 86 on first innings after dismissing Durham for 131 by lunch, Northants knew their second-innings, in bright sunshine, was crucial in their chances of being promoted and at 65 for 4, a lead of 151, the match was in the balance. But Levi, with 60, and Rossington’s 52 grasped the situation to share a stand of 91 in 19.3 overs to move Northants into safer waters.
Levi is only playing his third Championship match of the summer but was at his fluent best here, timing the ball beautifully and especially strong off his legs. He cut and flicked Chris Rushworth for boundaries in making 35 by tea and after the break, turned Matt Salisbury to fine leg to raise just his second half-century of the summer across all formats and his first in the Championship. This took 59 balls and featured eight boundaries.
But to Rushworth’s first ball back into the attack, Levi, on 60, miscued a pull to deep square and threw away a stand that threatened to take the game away from Durham.
Rossington, after his swashbuckling 82 in the first innings, made his second fifty of the match in far more secure fashion, taking 94 balls scoring seven fours, clipping Brydon Carse twice through midwcket.
But the Northants captain couldn’t provide the significant score to perhaps win the match though as Ben Raine slid a full delivery into his off stump to remove Rossington for 52.
Luke Procter survived to the close unbeaten on 43 and he and the lower order will hope to build the lead towards 400 on day three.
Initially, Northants second innings looked like being a scrap as they lost Rob Newton for a golden duck – possibly the final innings of his season after suffering a hand injury fielding – but Alex Wakely and Ben Curran took the score to 54 for 1.
But again the hosts suffered a collapse. This time, 3 for 11 in 21 balls. Wakely fended a length ball from Matt Salisbury to first slip to fall for 30, Ben Curran edged Ben Raine to second slip for 19 and Rob Keogh was pinned lbw by a nip-backer from Raine for only 4. Levi and Rossington then restored the hosts’ position in the game.

Northants 217 (Rossington 82, Curran 36; Rushworth 5/68, Raine 3/63) lead Durham 37/4 (Sanderson 3/20) by 180 runs

Adam Rossington produced a murderous counterattack to revive Northamptonshire on the opening day of their crucial Specsavers County Championship promotion clash with Durham at Wantage Road.

Asked to bat in bowling conditions that couldn’t have been better designed, Northants were listing at 150 for 8 after Chris Rushworth’s fourth five-wicket haul of the season before captain Rossington struck 60 in just 22 balls to rescue a batting point. He was last out for 82 but pushed his side to 217. Ben Sanderson then put Northants on top with three wickets as Durham slipped to 37 for 4 when bad curtailed the day.

Rossington targeted the short leg-side boundary towards the Clark Road and shuffled across his stumps to slog sweep seven sixes – three of them in one over from Brydon Carse that went for 27 and four off Rushworth, including the biggest that brought up the batting point.

It was the perfect time for a captain’s innings and gave Northants something to bowl at, which looked unlikely when Rushworth ran through them after lunch. Conditions were tailor-made for he and the Durham attack with a heavy grey cloud clinging over the ground and the floodlights the only reason play was possible. Ned Eckersley could have declined the toss from the changing room.

But the visitors did not initially do justice to conditions and allowed Northants to reach 99 for 1 just after lunch. But Durham located a more consistent length and Rushworth’s first wicket began a severe slide of 7 for 51 in 21.1 overs.

He found the breakthrough with a delivery that jagged back sharply off the seam to pluck out Alex Wakely’s off stump as he perfectly-justifiably shouldered arms. Two balls later Rob Keogh edged an away-swinger to fall for a second-ball duck after a match-winning innings last week.

Rushworth also nipped one through Ben Curran’s defences, who was rather caught on the crease in losing his off stump for a battling 36. After tea, Doug Bracewell was pinned by a nip-backer for 1 and the five-wicket haul was completed by one that bounced to take the shoulder of Brett Hutton’s bat to point.

Ben Raine also went to 50 wickets in a season for the second time with his 3 for 57, having Rob Newton caught at slip for 26, Luke Procter caught behind first ball after tea for 8 and Gareth Berg bowled off his gloves as he tried to avoid another ball that bounced a little.

But after Rossington’s brilliance gave his side a useful score, and momentum, the Northants bowlers made inroads much earlier then Durham managed.

Sanderson got one to straighten on Cameron Steel who edged low to Hutton at third slip for 7 and lured Alex Lees, on 15, into flicking across a full delivery  to provide Alex Wakely with a catch at first slip. A nip-backer then trapped Angus Robson lbw for 9.

Gareth Berg also produced a big inswinger that won a leg before decision against Championship debutant BJ Watling. The New Zealander walked off for a third-ball duck as Northants ended the day much the stronger.

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