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16th May 2009

Durham get back on track

Skipper Will Smith made 77 in Durham’s total of 287 for four, while Kyle Coetzer (61), Ian Blackwell (57) and Dale Benkenstein (45 not out) all made healthy contributions.

Usman Afzaal top-scored for Surrey with 58 from 66 balls, but lacked support as the hosts fell well short of their target.

Michael Brown (15) was Surrey’s first casualty nine overs into the reply, edging to understudy keeper Lee Goddard when reaching for a wide one from Mitchell Claydon to make it 31 for one.

That brought in Mark Ramprakash, who joined left-hander Scott Newman in a stand of 67 from 13 overs.

Opener Newman moved smoothly to a 67-ball 50 with seven fours, until his demise heralded Surrey’s downfall with five wickets falling in 10 overs for 42 runs.

Newman, almost run out only three balls earlier when a shy missed the stumps, leant back to cut against Jamaican off-spinner Gareth Breese and only succeeded in edging to slip.

Debutant 17-year-old seamer, Ben Stokes, then made Mark Ramprakash (36) his prized first wicket in senior cricket when, with his third legal delivery, he uprooted the right-hander’s off stump via a thick, bottom-edge.

Grant Elliott missed a back-foot force to be bowled by Breese, Gary Wilson was caught behind when sweeping the same bowler, and then Matt Spriegel was cleaned bowled by a Stokes off-cutter.

Chris Schofield (31) and captain Afzaal offered token resistance thereafter as Durham wrapped up their second win in seven starts with 16 balls to spare.

Whilst the visitors’ innings lacked a spectacular, stand-out knock their total was more than enough thanks to steady contributions throughout the top order.

Having won the toss and elected to bat on a morning when showers were expected, Durham’s Gordon Muchall clattered three quick boundaries only to edge a push drive against Pedro Collins and be superbly caught by tumbling keeper Wilson.

Smith and Scotland international Coetzer came together for a fluent, if unspectacular second-wicket stand worth 100 in 23 overs, though Smith ought to have gone on 16 when Afzaal inexplicably downed a chance at backward point.

Smith went on to post a 70-ball 50 with four fours, while Coetzer also beat the ropes four times in his 77-ball effort.

Afzaal, struggling to control proceedings, used seven bowlers in the opening 30 overs of the game.

Former England leg-spinner Chris Schofield fashioned Surrey’s next breakthrough when he pegged back Coetzer’s off stump after the right-hander missed a cut stroke. Unluckily the ball also ricocheted off the timbers and into the mouth of keeper Gary Wilson, who continued but only after treatment.

Smith and Blackwell, the ex-Somerset all-rounder, raised entertainment levels with a flurry of boundaries in their 81 stand inside 11 overs, but the fun ended when Smith cut to Spriegel at backward point who held on to make it 201 for three.

Blackwell continued to torment the Surrey attack, clattering a brace of sixes toward the iconic gas holders and high into the Peter May Stand on his way to a 42-ball half-century and though he gave up his own wicket slogging to long-leg, Durham already had enough runs to defend.