DURHAM retained the 50+ County Championship with a superb six-wicket victory over Essex at neutral Kibworth in Leicestershire.
In a repeat of last summer’s final, Durham lost the toss but were put in – and made Essex pay for that decision.
Openers Tony Birbeck (49) and Keith Smith (41) put on 93 for the first wicket, then Graham Shaw, with a brilliant 104 which featured nine fours and three sixes, and Nick Thompson (37) combined for a 129-run third-wicket partnership on the way to Durham’s 45-over total of 251-4.
Essex made a good start to their reply, with opening batsman Kevin Grant making 82, but they fell just short, being bowled out for 245 in the final over as Chris Young took the bowling honours with 4-65 in nine overs.
Shaw, who took the final wicket, and Dave McCabe both pounced twice to see Durham home, with captain Birbeck also striking.