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15th April 2024 Match Reports

Matthew Potts scores career best 149* guiding Durham to safety over Warwickshire

Day 4 – Warwickshire 698/3 declared drew with  Durham 517/10 & 293/6

Durham’s resilience was rewarded with a draw on their return to Vitality County Championship Division One after their game against Warwickshire drifted to stalemate at Edgbaston, as Matthew Potts scored a career best 149* and guided Durham to safety.

Warwickshire began the final day scenting victory as the newly-promoted side, following on, resumed on 12 for two, still 169 behind. But stubborn batting, led by a maiden century from nightwatchman Matthew Potts (149 not out, 254 balls), along with weather interference, sentenced the match to a draw. The visitors closed on 293 for six.

Having conceded 698 for three in a bruising re-entry to the top flight, Durham take a lot of credit for battling to a draw, earned principally by their first innings 517, the third highest score ever by a team which then had to follow on.

Ultimately, both bowling attacks were nullified by a combination of placid pitch and Kookaburra ball. Both sides were further hampered by the loss of a key man through injury, Warwickshire’s Chris Rushworth suffering a calf niggle and Durham’s Scott Boland a sore heel.

If Warwickshire were to force a result on the final day, they needed to strike early but overnight pair Potts and Colin Ackermann, little troubled on a pitch which did not deteriorate, stretched their partnership another 100 minutes into the morning session.

The third-wicket pair added 79 in 30 overs before Ackermann (22, 100 balls) played back to Yates and a sharply turning ball knocked out his middle stump. Yates has good reason to remember this match having scored a superb 191 (25 fours, five sixes) and taken a nifty catch and seven wickets including a career-best four for 137.

Potts will also long recall this game. He lifted Danny Briggs straight for six on his way to a 97-ball half-century and advanced smoothly to his maiden ton. David Bedingham settled alongside him as the pair added 50 in 56 balls before Bedingham (35, 41 balls) departed in anguish after donating a maiden first class wicket to Jake Bethell when he hoiked a long hop to deep mid-wicket.

That left Durham four down and still 25 behind with 50 overs left in the match but the weather, which had already dabbled in drizzle, hail, sleet, simooms, sunshine and bitterly cold winds during the day, switched on a burst of heavy rain.

That interruption ended all hope of a positive result. All that remained was for Potts and Ollie Robinson (52, 52 balls) to enjoy some sedate batting practice during which the former became the first player in the history of cricket to reach his maiden century with a three in Birmingham on a Monday.

Day 3 – Warwickshire 698/3 declared lead Durham 517/10 & 12/2 by 169 runs

Durham unfurled a dogged rearguard action against Warwickshire on the third day of their Vitality County Championship fixture at Edgbaston – but need to deliver another one tomorrow.

Facing a mammoth target of 549 to avoid the follow on, Scott Borthwick’s side were bowled out for 517. Alex Lees (145, 240 balls), Ben Raine (93, 125), Graham Clark (76, 179), Ollie Robinson (60, 91) and Matty Potts (44, 40) all dug deep but Warwickshire’s depleted attack kept paring away, led by a career-best four for 137 by off-spinner Rob Yates.

Trailing on first innings by 181, Durham closed day three on 12 for two and need to bat out day four to prevent Warwickshire’s second-highest ever total – 698 for three – being rewarded with victory.

That should be achievable by the visitors on a pitch which has yielded up just 15 wickets in three days. The two first innings together contained 10 individual three-figure scores – four with the bat and six with the ball.

After Durham resumed on the third morning on 178 for three, the pattern of batting control immediately resumed with little suggestion that the pitch was breaking up. Lees and Robinson took their partnership to 99, the former reaching his 24th first class century from 185 balls and reached 10,000 first-class runs in the process. Robinson flicked Olly Hannon-Dalby over mid-wicket for six on his way to an 82-ball half-century but then skied Danny Briggs to extra cover.

With Chris Rushworth off the field undergoing treatment for a calf niggle, the new ball went into the unaccustomed hands of Will Rhodes and the former captain soon nipped it inside a Lees drive to hit off-stump. When Brydon Carse ladled Ed Barnard carelessly to long leg, Durham were 331 for six, still 217 from that follow on figure, but Clark and Raine steadied the ship, and took valuable time out of the game, with a stand of 122 in 33 overs.

Yates turned one sharply past Clark’s attempted paddle to leg to win an lbw decision, but Raine continue to prosper on territory he has enjoyed before. Six years ago, as a Leicestershire player in a Blast fixture at Edgbaston, he smashed 113 of which 108 came in fours and sixes. This time he struck five sixes and eight fours but then left the door ajar for Warwickshire when he was bowled behind his legs by Yates.

That was Yates’ first three-for in first class cricket. Three balls later he had a four-for after taking a smart low return catch from Callum Parkinson. When Potts skied Dan Mousley to that man Yates at deep mid-wicket, Durham were still 32 short of the follow on so had ten overs batting second time around.

It took only five balls for Hannon-Dalby to dislodge one of the potentially biggest obstacles to a Warwickshire win when he lured first innings century-maker Alex Lees into a loose drive which he edged to wicketkeeper Michael Burgess. The last word of the day fell to the remarkable Yates who had Borthwick caught behind to add a fifth wicket to his 191 runs in the match so far.

Day 2 – Warwickshire 698/3declared lead Durham 178/3 by 520

Warwickshire piled up the second-highest total in their history to put Durham under pressure in their Vitality County Championship Division One tussle at Edgbaston.

The home side, led by Alex Davies’ maiden double-century, amassed a mammoth 698 for three declared to leave Durham needing 549 even to avoid the follow on.

The visitors closed the second day on 178 for three with Alex Lees (94 not out, 171 balls) leading the resistance but with a huge amount of work still to do to dig his side out of trouble.

A combination of placid pitch, Kookaburra ball, short boundary and injury-affected and rusty bowling attacks has delivered batting heaven in Birmingham. Warwickshire captain Davies took most advantage to amass 256, his maiden double century, from 311 balls while Rob Yates (a glittering 191 on the first day), Will Rhodes (178 not out from 234 balls) and Dan Mousley (an unbeaten 55 from 53) also filled their boots.

It has proved a bracing return to Division One for newly-promoted Durham whose scheduled opening game, at home to Hampshire, last week, was washed out without a ball bowled. Callum Parkinson, on his debut, harvested the most expensive analysis by a Durham bowler in first class cricket – two for 206 – while three of his team-mates also conceded more than 100 runs.

Warwickshire resumed on the second morning on 490 for one and spent the morning milking a resigned-looking Durham attack which was without Scott Boland. The Australian overseas signing bowled just 13 overs on the first day and didn’t return on day 2, sensibly spared the ordeal of flogging himself further in such gruelling conditions.

Former Lancashire opener Davies advanced implacably onwards and it was a surprise when, after 445 minutes at the crease in which he struck 28 fours and three sixes, he was beaten in forward defence and bowled by Parkinson.

The spinner then made it two wickets in three balls when he produced a beauty to bowl Ed Barnard, but the theme of batting domination was soon restored. Mousley hoisted his third ball into the crowd at the City End for six and settled in alongside the relentless Rhodes to add an unbroken 132 in 22 overs before the declaration arrived half an hour into the afternoon session.

The pitch continued to offer the bowlers little but, after Durham eased to 42 without loss, Warwickshire’s seamers manage to prise two superb deliveries from it in nine balls. Scott Borthwick edged a brute of a lifter from Olly Hannon Dalby behind and Colin Ackermann nicked a perfectly-shaped outswinger from Craig Miles.

Lees and David Bedingham knuckled down to add 94 in 25 overs before off-spinner Yates, given his longest spell in first class cricket so far, had Bedingham (49, 70) caught at short mid-wicket. Lees’ concentration remained absolute (he closed the day on 9,998 first class runs) and, with Ollie Robinson, saw out the last 16 overs of the day but Durham are still in the foothills of the mountain they have to climb.

Day 1 – Warwickshire 490/1

Durham endured a day of torment on their return to Vitality County Championship Division One as Warwickshire piled up 490 for one on the opening day at Edgbaston.

The visitors chose to bowl but were pummelled by openers Rob Yates (191, 205 balls) and Alex Davies (226 not out, 274 balls) who added 343, the second-highest championship opening stand for Warwickshire.

Yates took advantage with a stylish innings which included 25 fours and five sixes, while captain Davies posted an iron-willed maiden double-century with 25 fours and three sixes. In first class cricket, Durham have conceded only five partnerships of 300-plus – three of them by Warwickshire.

This latest instalment of woe arrived despite the presence in the bowling attack of three debutants – Scott Boland, Callum Parkinson and Colin Ackermann. They ended the day with a combined one for 220.

Durham’s decision to bowl appeared strange, bearing in mind the Kookaburra and the good batting pitch for the first game of the season at Edgbaston last week, and Yates and Davies duly rattled up 50 in 57 balls.

Boland ended the Australian season in good form with 16 wickets in his last two games for Victoria but endured a joyless entry to county cricket. His first ball went for four and so did four others in his first three overs. Thirteen fours arrived in the first 12 overs as Davies raced to his 50 in 57 balls and Yates to his in 58.

They alternated in taking the initiative. Davies was first to his century (102 balls) but after Yates passed his ton (118), he accelerated. Successive sixes off Brydon Carse over the very short boundary took him in front of his partner and he struck Ackermann gloriously for 16 in three balls just before tea before perishing in pursuit of another six when Alex Lees held a swirling catch at long off.

Yates left the field to a standing ovation and the spectators were soon back on their feet in acclaim for Davies’ maiden double century (249 balls). Never mind the propitious conditions, it was an innings of immense discipline and concentration from the captain and he has power to add tomorrow. In company with Will Rhodes (60 not out, 100 balls) he milked the melancholy Durham attack for 147 in the last 34 overs of the day.

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