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29th July 2008

Durham CCC v Nottinghamshire CCC

Any one of several higher-profile players might have been nominated as a likely headline act in this top-of-the-table match, but it was Smith who made the most significant contribution on day one.His 85 out of Durham’s 266 all out is better than anything the former Nottinghamshire batsman managed on this ground in just 11 first-class matches spread over five years, before heading north at the start of last summer.

Charlie Shreck (4-69) appeared set to dominate as the visitors lurched to 15 for two in the seventh over, after choosing to bat on a sunny morning. But 25-year-old Smith, whose Nottinghamshire career was intermittent because of his commitments to Durham University, has begun to fulfil his potential – and took his opportunity to consolidate the maiden double-hundred he made at Guildford just last week.

The number three was in the equation in only the third over, after Shreck had Michael di Venuto lbw with a delivery which appeared to be swinging across the left-hander and then nipped back off the pitch. Mark Stoneman had to play at one just short of a length which just did enough to take the outside edge for a caught-behind. But Shivnarine Chanderpaul and Smith began the retrieval mission and were soon establishing some momentum.

Andre Adams was substituted out of this match once Stuart Broad arrived at lunchtime, like Durham’s Steve Harmison no longer required by England at Edgbaston. Before then, though, the New Zealand all-rounder made his presence felt when he saw off Chanderpaul with the second delivery of his only spell. Aiming to push an innocuous ball for runs off the back foot through the off-side, the world’s number one batsman instead merely managed a thick inside edge to knock back middle-stump.

Smith and Dale Benkenstein kept Durham in decent shape with the match’s first half-century stand either side of lunch, until the Durham captain compliantly drove Shreck into the hands of cover to take the bowler to within two of the 40 wickets taken so far by the top flight’s pacemaker Harmison.

Ben Harmison did not last long before nicking one behind off Broad – but Phil Mustard and Smith then put on 57 together until the wicketkeeper was bowled sweeping at the last ball before tea from slow left-armer Samit Patel.
Smith’s runs came from 182 balls and contained 13 fours, in an innings characterised by compact defence and unfussy but effective strokeplay.

It was a disappointment therefore when he fell in early evening, to an ill-conceived and poorly executed drive at a length ball from Broad which plopped into the hands of mid-on. 

Paul Wiseman helped the Durham tail muster a second batting point, to take their team slightly above par – if the benchmark is first-innings totals in Nottingham so far this summer – before Shreck and Broad (3-47) hastened the end with the second new ball as Nottinghamshire replied with six for none from three overs by stumps.