Ben Stokes ’em up

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BEN Stokes believes Durham have what it takes to make life tough for opponents Somerset.

Durham were forced to dig deep on the opening day of their County Championship curtain-raiser after falling to 94-5 at the Emirates ICG yesterday.

The hosts were 250 all out, with Stokes top-scoring on 49.

And the all-rounder believes that is a foundation that Durham can build on.

He said: “Getting off to a good start gives you and your team confidence.

“After the way we played yesterday, I think we’ll go into today and the third and fourth day with a lot of confidence. Hopefully, we can come out with a win.”

Durham were made to work hard for their runs in the early-season conditions, after being put in by Somerset skipper Marcus Trescothick.

But Stokes and Phil Mustard steadied the ship with a partnership of 60, the latter making 39 before following Stokes and falling to the spin of George Dockrell.

Stokes put on 60 with fellow left-hander Mustard, who played well for 39 before he too surrendered to the 20-year-old Dubliner, offering a soft return catch. Scott Borthwick was resolute, making 45 before being the last wicket of the day to fall.

Stokes praised his Durham team-mates for their hard work.

“The lads who got runs all got stuck in, and look in good nick. Hopefully we can carry that on.”

However, he is well aware that Durham will have to deliver with the ball to make sure their gritty batting doesn’t count for nought.

“With 250 on the board, we’ll look to restrict them to less than that, but we know there’s not going to be as much reward in the pitch as last year.

“We’ve just got to bowl our lines and lengths and get it in the right areas. There was a bit of swing and a bit of nip here and there as well. They just bowled really well.”

Reaching 250 runs meant that the home side picked up two bonus batting points, and Stokes admits that is a plus point.

“Ideally we were going to bowl first as well,” he admitted. “It’s a big plus for us to bat so well. We struggled for batting points last year, so it was good to get two yesterday.

Durham reached 31 without loss, but then slipped to 43-3 as the visitors’ decision to field first looked to have paid off.

Stokes revealed that Durham are still coming to terms with their new surface. He added: “The pitch from last year is completely different. There’s not as much pace in it.

“We’re just finding out what conditions are like this year, and it was a case of sticking in and finding out what your scoring options were.

“I think 250 was a good score. It’s April, so runs are going to be tough to get.”