DURHAM finally broken their duck in this season’s LV= County Championship Division One, beating Middlesex by 15 runs in a dramatic climax at Chester-le-Street yesterday.
Ben Stokes, who had left the field with a dislocated finger the previous evening, took the last two wickets, while Graham Onions bowled throughout the 85 minutes’ play and finished with three for 38 in 20 overs.
Toby Roland-Jones, promoted from 10 to seven as a nightwatchman, kept his cool in the tense situation and looked likely to see Middlesex to their target of 118.
In a match in where ball dominated bat, he showed a better technique than most of the top-order men on either side.
But with only 20 needed two wickets went down on 98. Roland-Jones felt for an away swinger from Onions and edged to wicketkeeper Michael Richardson then a yorker from Stokes clattered into the base of Ollie Rayner’s off stump.
When Stokes also had Tim Murtagh caught behind Middlesex were all out for 102 and Durham were jubilant after their two-wicket defeat in a similar situation at Arundel last week.
The visitors lost a wicket without adding to their overnight 58 for five. A brief shower after 10 balls sent the players from the field but John Simpson fell to the second ball on the resumption.
Onions swung it into the left-hander and an inside edge forced Richardson to dive to his right to hold a brilliant catch.
Gareth Berg and Roland-Jones added 13 before Berg drove at a wide ball from Chris Rushworth and edged to first slip, where Paul Collingwood leapt to hold another excellent catch above his head.
It was Rushworth’s fourth wicket of the innings, without bowling particularly well, and Rayner immediately drove him to the cover boundary.
Stokes replaced Rushworth when Middlesex needed 34 and opened with a wide. But it was the young all-rounder who had the last word.
Durham were so grateful on Saturday for a partnership between Callum Thorp and Scott Borthwick which put on 60 in eight overs.
From 119 for seven – and staring defeat in the face – they went on to make 200.
And ultimately that gave them a target to bowl at which gave them an unlikely victory.
H Durham entertain Australia A in a three-day game, starting on Wednesday.