Wessels century defies Durham

John Hastings

John Hastings

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NOTTINGHAMSHIRE were indebted to Riki Wessels for rescuing them from 102-7 on the opening day of the LV County Championship Division One match against Durham at Chester-le-Street yesterday.

However, Wessels lacked support as the visitors were dismissed for 245, before Durham closed on 69-3 – losing all three wickets in the last four overs.

Wessels spent nine balls on 97 before he drove at Graham Onions and edged the ball over the slips for his 15th four.

Wessels made 117 before he was last out, brilliantly caught with an outstretched right hand at fine leg by John Hastings, who also removed Philander in taking three wickets.

Despite a previous top score of 43 this season, Wessels was rarely troubled as he progressed to his century off 153 balls on a ground where he made 90 last year.

Coming in at 40 for four, with the ball nipping around after Notts were put in, Wessels had put on 32 with Samit Patel when the latter edged to the wicketkeeper in the last over before lunch. That gave the first of two wickets to Mark Wood, making his first appearance of the season for Durham after spending time in the Caribbean and Ireland with England.

Wessels spent nine balls on 97 before he drove at Graham Onions and edged the ball over the slips for his 15th four.

However, it was a rare lapse as he drove and pulled crisply.

Chris Rushworth found sufficient movement to gain two of his three wickets with balls to which no stroke was offered. Brendan Taylor padded up to the 11th ball of the day, while Chris Read had his off stump knocked out shortly after lunch.

Alex Hales was lbw for six when half forward to a delivery from Rushworth which came back just enough and in the next over Onions shaped one away to have Steven Mullaney caught behind.

Hastings brought one back sharply to have James Taylor lbw for nine and after Read’s exit, Hutton was unlucky to be the only other victim of the afternoon session – gloving a leg-side catch to Phil Mustard off Wood.

Philander was on eight when a ball from Onions flew off the shoulder of the bat and Calum MacLeod was unable to hang on when diving to his right at gully.

Wessels pulled the next ball to long leg for his seventh four to reach 50 off 72 balls, before Philander and left-hander Wood departed to edged catches when looking to drive Hastings – whose sensational catch wrapped up the innings shortly afterwards.

Philander contributed 41 to an eighth-wicket stand of 110 – but he was out of luck with the ball, while the youngsters comprising the rest of the seam attack could not match Durham’s potency until very late in the day.

Mark Stoneman and Keaton Jennings endured a few uncomfortable overs before Stoneman got after 19-year-old left-armer Luke Wood on his way to 44.

Wood conceded 27 in three overs before making way for all-rounder Brett Hutton, who is also playing only his third first-class game and has been preferred to Will Gidman.

However, Stoneman padded up to Hutton in the 14th over and was given out lbw, then in the next over Jennings edged Harry Gurney to Read to depart for 18.

In the last over of the day the visitors’ hopes were boosted further when Hutton skidded a delivery through to gain another lbw verdict against nightwatchman Mark Wood.

Wessels, who was on 32 when he was caught behind trying to pull a Mark Wood no-ball, said: “It hit me on the thumb and it’s pretty sore. I got great support from Vernon. He’s so experienced and took the pressure off.”

Wood said: “It was disappointing to bowl that no-ball and to get out at the end when I wanted to do my job as nightwatchman.

“It has been a great experience being with England and I can understand why I didn’t get picked. I felt a bit rusty at first after not playing, but I felt I got into a good rhythm later and hope to push on from here.”