Defiant Smith century is a welcome tonic

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WILL Smith was looking for Durham to push on after he finally found his shots against Nottingham at Trent Bridge yesterday.

Smith has struggled for runs in his side’s early County Championship games – having a score of 42, alongside knocks of one, none, 15, none and four.

That was until yesterday when the batsman, moved up to opener in the absence of Keaton Jennings, provided stoic resistance against a home attack which included England stars Stuart Broad and Graeme Swann.

His innings of 119 not out may not have been a thrill-a-minute ride of swashbuckling strokeplay, but it was exactly what the visitors needed as they ended day two on 297-6 – some 23 runs behind Nottinghamshire’s first innings of 320 all out.

With four wickets remaining and Smith himself still in bat, the opener was looking for Durham to go on to build a lead.

“As a team we are really in a position now where we really need to kick on,” he said. “We finished 20-odd runs behind, and if we can get 100 ahead and put them under pressure, we will be in a really good position.”

Smith took 270 balls to reach his century, and while it may not have been pleasing on the eye at times, his innings, and 115-run partnership with Paul Collingwood will certainly have pleased his team-mates.

And Smith, admits it was refreshing to spend so long at the crease.

He said: “It was nice to be out there. It’s been pretty unusual this year, I’ve been out there all innings for the fielding, but then haven’t spent too long with the batting.

“But it’s good to do it in this game. It’s a nice enough wicket that if you play straight, and back your judgement then it should go well.”

It was a welcome return to both his form and an olkd stomping ground for Smith, who played for the home side between 2002 and 2006, without hitting a ton.

And in his previous 10 innings against his old club, he failed to score more than 15 runs.

“I’d never got a championship century here, which is always something I was mindful of,” he said.

“I was really keen to finally get one. I played a few years here, but I didn’t play too much championship cricket, so it was nice finally do it.

“It’s a wonderful ground, one of the best in the world, so it was nice to get some runs here.”

Smith and Collingwood (64) were Durham’s saviours as tried to chase down Nottinghamshire.

Having resumed on 34-1, the visitors were soon two down as nightwatchman Chris Rushworth was caught behind for 12 off the bowling off Ajmal Shahzad.

After Scott Bortwhick, Dale Benkenstein and Ben Stokes all went, Durham were struggling on 148-5, but Smith and Collingwood steadied the ship.