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2nd September 2008

Durham CCC v Lancashire CCC

Smith was left out of the side in mid-season last year but his unbeaten 144 in Durham’s 280 for three at the Riverside was his third ton since being recalled at the end of May. Smith was signed from Nottinghamshire as an opening batsman but failed to reach 50 in 19 championship innings last year. This summer, as a number three, he has also had an 85 and a 70 in 16 knocks this season.

Only 55 overs were possible today in this Division One encounter, with Durham advancing from their overnight 142 for three. Captain Dale Benkenstein was unbeaten on 61 at the close, the pair having taken their unbroken partnership to 184.

That is already 34 more than Durham’s previous record for the fourth wicket against Lancashire, set by John Morris and Jimmy Daley at Old Trafford in 1995. The only clear chance came when Smith, on 117, edged Glen Chapple at waist height to Paul Horton’s right at first slip. The fielder barely laid a finger on the ball as it sped away for four.

Smith is now Durham’s leading championship run-scorer with 882, which includes a double century at Guildford, while his other ton was also in the south, at Hove. After the start was delayed until 12.40pm because of a wet outfield, Durham added 110 runs before rain arrived at 3.55pm. Play resumed at 5.30pm with only nine overs to be bowled.

Chapple, well below his best yesterday, was unlucky not to have Benkenstein lbw with an inswinger before the batsman had added to his overnight 21. The Durham skipper then cut Chapple to the fence, but added only four more in the first 50 minutes as he battled to recover his form. Though he passed 50 four times in his first five innings of the season, he has since managed it only twice – until today.

Smith, on 59 overnight, pulled Dominic Cork for two fours in an over and remained unruffled by the veteran all-rounder’s resultant verbals. As on the first day, Oliver Newby bowled at least one bad ball an over until he suddenly improved and almost bowled Smith, on 84. He also induced an inside edge which just eluded wicketkeeper Luke Sutton.

The ball flew to the boundary to take Smith to 99 and he was beaten by Francois Du Plessis before paddling the leg-spinner to long-leg for a single to take him to three figures off 217 balls, with 17 fours. A similar stroke by Benkenstein brought up his fifty off 137 balls, and he continued in dogged vein, scoring just four runs in the final nine-over session.

Dale Benkenstein (44) Captain
Shivnarine Chanderpaul (3)
Mark Davies (4)
Michael Di Venuto (23)
Lee Goddard (17)
Ben Harmison (14)
Phil Mustard (19)
Graham Onions (9)
Liam Plunkett (20)
Will Smith (2)
Mark Stoneman (26)
Callum Thorp (36)
Paul Wiseman (8)