Stokes hopes for lift-off

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DURHAM’S Ben Stokes is hoping he has rediscovered hit form with the bat after yesterday’s half-century against Warwickshire.

The all-rounder has not found runs too difficult to come by in the one-day form of the game, but in the County Championship the going has been decidedly tougher.

And Stokes is hoping yesterday’s knock at the Emirates ICG is the sign of things to come.

“I felt on good form yesterday, and hopefully that continues from here,” said Stokes.

“It’s been tough (batting in the championship), but I’ve just got to stay as positive as I can, and looking back at yesterday and at Taunton – where Stokes also made a half-cenutry – I’ve put a bit more confidence in myself, and that I can bat the way I want.”

Stokes is now looking to add more runs to his four-day tally, and says he must continue to perform.

He said: “It’s nice to get in the middle, and spend some time in the middle, bit disappointed that I didn’t go on to get a bit more, but the starts are coming, so hopefully I can build on that.

“One thing I haven’t done over the last two years is be consistent. I’ve got the odd big score here and there, but not put consistent performances in.

“So that’s what I’m looking to do.”

Stokes top-scored for Durham with 61 before playing on to Jeetan Patel, who picked up 3-68.

Durham got off to a bad start when Mark Stoneman went without scoring to the second ball of the game, but managed to rebuild as Keaton Jennings (33), Scott Borthwick (36) and Will Smith (45) all got starts.

And Stokes was quick to praise the efforts of the top-order batsmen.

He said: “Scotty (Borthwick) is playing really well at the moment – it was shame he couldn’t go on to make another big score.

“But him and Keats (Keaton Jennings) did the hard work up top, getting the shine off the ball, which is always the most difficult part at the Riverside.”

Keith Barker (4-41) was chief wicket-taker for the visitors, who bowled out the hosts for 276.

Warwickshire would have hoped to have denied Durham their second batting point, but again the tail wagged and a 43-run ninth-wicket partnership from Mark Wood and Graham Onions, who both made 22, lifted them past the 250 mark, which Stokes said came as no shock to him.

He added: “Bunny (Graham Onions) seems to have picked up a knack of doing that this year, he always comes in and gets a good 20 or 30, and Woody’s getting better and better with the bat.”

Warwickshire may have took some comfort in keeping Durham below 300, but, on a pitch where the average first innings total this season is 249, Stokes feels the hosts aren’t too far off where they’d like to be.

He said: “I think we’ve done well to get where we are.

“If we were being a little harsh on ourselves, we might have thought we should have got over that 300-run mark, but I think we’ve put ourselves in a good position. We got a lot of starts yesterday, so hopefully this is a sort of stepping stone for us.

“If we can get Warwickshire out for a good total first innings, then hopefully we can look to pile the runs on.”