Ecstasy then agony for Ben Stokes

Durham's Ben Stokes
Durham's Ben Stokes
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A TRIUMPHANT day for Durham batting prodigy Ben Stokes ended with him rushing from the field with a dislocated finger yesterday.

Stokes suffered the blow when trying to catch a fierce cut from Paul Horton and it seems certain to cut short his run of outstanding form.

It should not affect the result of the clash of the top two in the LV County Championship, though, as two overs from the close Horton was caught behind for 34 to give Graham Onions a second wicket and Lancashire closed on 69-3, still needing 204 to avoid an innings defeat.

Stokes earlier became the second batsman to clear the Don Robson Pavilion, twice hitting Steven Croft over the top in his career-best 185, which beat his 161 at Canterbury last year.

Kevin Pietersen is the only other batsman to have achieved the feat – lofting two maximums as a Nottinghamshire player in a Sunday League match in 2003.

After Stokes did it for the second time, he went for the same shot over mid-wicket and was bowled by off-spinner Croft.

He had also shared Durham’s record stand for any wicket in the County Championship, putting on 331 with Dale Benkenstein, whose fourth century of the season ended on 137, when he edged a drive at Luke Procter to wicketkeeper Gareth Cross.

Benkenstein was also involved in the previous record of 315, which he put on with Ottis Gibson at Headingley in the final match of 2006 to save Durham from relegation.

They have come a long way since then as they have emphasised by taking over at the top from Lancashire – albeit with a day to play in all the games – with the red rose gaining only one bowling point while Durham collected maximum batting points for the fifth time in eight games before they were all out for 586 after tea.

Benkenstein was the more fluent in the morning, adding 66 runs while Stokes struggled to regain the superb form which took him to his century off Monday’s last ball.

He was beaten several times when Lancashire took the new ball and offered chances on 84, 106 and 167, all to Paul Horton at slip.

Stokes hit just the two sixes in his 272-ball innings, while Phil Mustard had three in a 44-ball half-century.

When he was last out for 61, paddling Gary Keedy to short fine leg, it was only his third dismissal of the season and reduced his average to 122.

There were brisk contributions from Ian Blackwell and Callum Thorp as Durham added 307 runs in 69 overs before leaving themselves with 25 overs to bowl.

In the seventh, Onions skidded one through to have Stephen Moore lbw and in the 13th, Thorp’s inswinger pinned Keith Brown in front.

Finally Horton tried to cut Onions and got a bottom edge to Mustard.