Ben Stokes is on fire for Durham

Ben Stokes

Ben Stokes

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Cricket

BEN Stokes was the pick of the bowlers as Geoff Cook’s Durham side proved far too strong for Durham University in their opening first-class match of the season.

Stokes, who has been on international duty with England Lions during the winter, claimed 4-33 from his 10.5 overs to secure a victory by an innings and 44 runs at the Racecourse.

Cook said: “It has been a good workout for us and there are a lot of positives to come out of it.”

Now Durham will begin preparations for Friday’s LV County Championship Division One opener against Hampshire at the Rose Bowl.

Durham declared on 471-8, and were never in danger of seeing their total chased down by the students.

Centurions Ian Blackwell and Liam Plunkett, who had shared a partnership of 232 the previous day, were also among the wickets as was young spinner Scott Borthwick as the students were dismissed for 192.

Stokes picked up the first wicket yesterday when Luc Durandt (23) was caught behind, and he later ran out Greg Smith for 28 before trapping Jamie Atkinson (34) leg before, having Chris Roper caught behind without scoring and finishing the match with another lbw verdict. Chris Jones went for 23 to Liam Plunkett, before captain Tom Westley was dismissed by Ian Blackwell for three. Blackwell also had Rishad Shah lbw.

Borthwick had Luke Blackaby caught in the slips, while Chris Rushworth ran out Max Scarr. Shan Masood Khan was the pick of the students’ batting, ending unbeaten on 58.

Meanwhile England’s one-day international against India, which takes place at Emirates Durham ICG on Saturday, September 3, has sold out.

More than 17,000 tickets have been sold for the clash, which sees one-day World Champions take on England in their only visit to the region this year.

Durham executive David Harker said: “It’s obviously great news for the match to already be sold out.

“To have sold 17,000 five months before the game is due to be played is a real achievement and it just goes to show what great support cricket has in the North East.

“Tickets sold well as soon as they were released and the last few thousand sold especially fast as India progressed through the World Cup. We’re looking forward to welcoming England and the World Champions to a packed Emirates Durham later this summer.”