DURHAM record-breaker Chris Rushworth was “over the moon” after his 15-wicket heroics against Northamptonshire in yesterday’s LV County Championship Division One match at the Emirates ICG.
The 28-year-old Sunderland seamer, who had previously been without a five-wicket haul this season, had match figures of 20-3-95-15 as the visitors subsided for 83 and 90 – in reply to Durham’s 392 – to lose by an innings and 219 runs on day three.
They batted for a total of 40 overs and two balls. In the first innings, Rushworth sensationally took 9-52, the best analysis in the country this season.
They were also the second best figures in Durham’s first-class history, beaten only by Ottis Gibson’s 10-47 against Hampshire in 2007.
“It’s been a nice day, things have happened very fast,” said modest Rushworth, whose previous best haul was 6-58 at home to Somerset in the first match of last season.
And the former Hylton Colliery CC man insisted there was no secret to his amazing haul, just hard work. “I think it’s just a reward for putting the ball in the right area,” said Rushworth.
“Things have obviously came out quite nicely for me, and the lads have held on to some good catches, and I’m just over the moon.
“There wasn’t that much swing, but the pitch was offering some help so I just tried to hit the seam and get the ball in the right area. I was also helped by some good catches.”
Rushworth admitted he had an eye on copying Gibson’s 10-wicket demolition job, but says he was just happy with the win when that aim was ended by a wicket for Ben Stokes.
He added: “I’d be lying if I said I wasn’t thinking about 10-fer, but for anyone to take wickets, and for us to win the game was the most important thing.
“I’ll take nine for the first innings and six for the second!”
The overcast conditions clearly suited Rushworth as he took the first eight wickets at a cost of 36 runs in 10 overs either side of lunch. He conceded 13 runs off his ninth, then Stokes had Maurice Chambers (four) caught at second slip by Scott Borthwick.
Last man Mohammad Azharullah (two) slogged at nearly every ball, skying a catch to mid-off, where Mark Stoneman held his second catch after also accepting a careless drive by Neil Wagner (0.
Of Rushworth’s seven other first-innings scalps, two were bowled, one was lbw and the others fell to edged catches.
He has often bowled equally well this season without luck, and began this match with 43 Championship wickets.
The ball which took him to 50 sent Rob Keogh’s (17) off stump flying.
During an opening stand of 33, the greater threat appeared to come from Indian paceman Varun Aaron, with his fast away swingers.
When the debutant did find the edge, the ball dropped just short of Paul Collingwood at first slip. Rushworth made the breakthrough in the ninth over when he had top scorer James Middlebrook (23) caught at second slip.
In his next two overs, he had Kyle Coetzer (four) caught at fourth slip and nipped one back to have James Kettleborough (11) lbw before lunch.
He struck twice in his first over after the break – claiming the wickets of both Adam Rossington (nine) and Rob Newton (0) – before he bowled out Ben Duckett (0) two overs later, and the procession continued in the second innings, Stokes struck first by having Kettleborough (14) caught at first slip.
Rushworth took the next six to beat the record of 14 wickets in a match for Durham, set by current bowling coach Alan Walker against Essex at Chelmsford in 1995.
The epic haul was something the seamer thought at one point was highly unlikely to happen.
He added: “When I’d got the first seven wickets, Rocky (Mark Stoneman) mentioned Wak’s (Walker’s) record.
“But I was only supposed to bowl a couple of overs in the second innings, to be honest, but when I picked up a few quick ones it was king of ‘oh, I think I’d better get greedy and go for it here’.”
The victory a day early – the game was actually completed in less than two days of play, following the first-day abandonment – gives Durham extra time to prepare for Saturday’s clash with Warwickshire at Lord’s in the Royal London One-Day Cup final.