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24th April 2024 Features

From the Archives: Durham v Essex 1998

Durham v Essex at Chester-le-Street  13, 14, 15, 16 May 1998

Durham 276 (MA Gough 62, NJ Speak 41, MC Ilott 4-44) and 247 (NJ Speak 41, PD Collingwood 42) Essex 185 and 243 (N Hussain 63, MM Betts 6-83)

Durham won by 95 runs

Durham 22 points Essex 4 points

Nick Speak deputised as Durham captain in the absence of the injured David Boon. After winning the toss he chose to bat, and Durham made slow progress throughout the day. The future international umpire, Michael Gough, made his first-class debut at the age of 18. He was to show admirable patience as he batted for over four and a half hours. Several of the other Durham batsmen got in but were unable to make a big score.

On the second day the Essex batsmen found it equally difficult particularly against the Durham seamers Melvyn Betts, John Wood, Stephen Harmison and Michael Foster. It was Harmison’s breakthrough season, and he and Betts were both rewarded with selection for England A.

By the close Durham had a lead of close to 200 with seven wickets still standing. Nick Speak went early on the third morning but the lead grew until with the score on 177 Danny Law took a hat-trick which seemed to let Essex back into the match. It was the first hat-trick on the ground. However, John Wood hit 37 off 43 balls and added 37 with Paul Collingwood and 43 with Stephen Harmison. These crucial late order runs meant that Essex required 339 to win but with lots of time left in the match.

England batsman, Nasser Hussain, provided initial resistance but wickets fell regularly and at the close of the third day Essex still required 145 with just four wickets standing. On the final morning the impressive Betts took three further wickets to finish with eight for 113 in the match and ensure that victory was completed before lunch.

Two further victories in the next three matches took Durham to the then unprecedented heights of second in the table. Unfortunately, such good form was not sustained but nevertheless a final position of fourteenth was still the best that Durham had achieved up to that point.

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