DURHAM skipper Paul Collingwood hailed Chris Rushworth after the bowler bounced back from his T20 woes to fire his side to their first LV County Championship victory at the eighth attempt yesterday.
Rushworth had come in for some criticism from supporters after he conceded 16 runs in his last over against Worcestershire in a NatWest T20 Blast game to hand the opponents victory.
But the Sunderland-born paceman again showed his worth by taking the final wicket in a thrilling victory over Lancashire at the Emirates ICG yesterday.
Rushworth trapped last man Simon Kerrigan lbw to wrap up a 27-run victory and end with figures of 4-45
Collingwood said of Rushworth: “He’s been outstanding – he hasn’t got the rewards he deserves.
“The way that he’s been bowling, he deserves five-fors every single game.
“He creates pressure all the time, he beats the bat all the time, and he seems to have it on a string at the minute.
“He’s been excellent, and for him to get four wickets was great for him, but he’s probably deserved more the way he’s been bowling this season.”
Jos Buttler’s first century for Lancashire was not enough to propel the visitors to victory.
Buttler, England’s limited-overs wicketkeeper-batsman, did his chances of Test recognition no harm with an unbeaten 100 off 131 balls, and the visitors appeared to be on course for victory when Buttler and Steven Croft put on 129 for the fifth wicket to lead their side to 203 for five in pursuit of 340.
Durham took the two wickets they wanted in the first hour, only for the change bowlers to come under fire from Croft and Buttler.
Croft drove a Scott Borthwick full toss to the boundary to reach 50 off 66 balls, but his exit sparked Lancashire’s decline.
Croft (72) pulled Ben Stokes to deep square-leg, where Gordon Muchall held a good catch, and Buttler lost his fluency after racing to 50 off 51 balls.
Initially, he was happy to play second fiddle to Tom Smith, who eased to 26 before Collingwood’s bowling changes began to pay dividends.
Smith pushed forward to the fourth ball of a John Hastings spell and a thick edge flew low to Borthwick at gully.
Glen Chapple made a streaky 14 before Ben Stokes returned and the visiting captain chased the fourth ball, which was short and wide, and edged to Phil Mustard. When Kyle Hogg pushed tentatively forward and was bowled by Hastings, Kabir Ali joined Buttler with 71 needed.
The target was down to 31 when Hastings had Kabir caught at forward short leg for 26, then Rushworth took the new ball with Buttler on 97. He cut the first ball for two and pushed the second to deep cover for a single to complete his century.
But two balls later Kerrigan played across an in-swinger and was lbw, and Lancashire were all out for 312.
Collingwood added: “It was nerve-racking, but we always know here that you are only one wicket away from going bang, bang.
“There wasn’t much life in the pitch and balls going soft after 15-20 overs doesn’t help.
“But the bowlers kept running in hard. We probably deserved to win this one.”