Durham had much the better of promotion-chasing Kent on a cut and thrust opening day to their Specsavers County Championship Division Two encounter in Canterbury.
Veteran skipper Paul Collingwood led from the front with an unbeaten 93, including 13 boundaries, as Durham rallied after losing a brace of wickets in each of the first two sessions to go in at stumps on 318-5, with three batting bonus points secured.
Collingwood and fifth-wicket partner Ryan Pringle (a season’s best 71, with 11 fours) combined either side of tea to add 141 in 42.3 overs.
Sunderland-born Pringle enjoyed his century partnership and the tussle with mystery spinner Yasir Shah.
“I’d like to think that the stand with Colly took the wind out of their sails a bit,” said Pringle, 25.
“The ball was swinging and there was a time when they could have quite easily got on a roll, so for us to add 140-odd and only be five down at the end of the day was a good result.
“I was surprised they didn’t take the new ball straight away, and it wasn’t an ideal time for me to get out, but it’s a good cricket wicket.
“I really enjoyed the contest with Shah too. For me, as a right-hander, he attacks both edges of my bat and I had to watch him hard.
“I can see why he’s got a lot of wickets too – that pitch didn’t help him much, but from nowhere he got a couple to turn and bounce. They came out of nowhere, so it will be very interesting against him in the second innings.”
Collingwood escaped a couple of concerted appeals for lbw, but otherwise appeared untroubled against a useful Kent attack.
Batting first after winning the toss, Durham openers Stephen Cook and Keaton Jennings did well to survive tight, new-ball bursts by Matt Coles and Darren Stevens. Having posted a first-wicket stand of 79, both departed within seven deliveries.
Jennings (43) lost his off stump to Will Gidman’s sixth ball of the match, a skidding leg-cutter, then, in the next over, Stephen Cook, having mustered a patient 25, played across the line to a full delivery from Coles to exit lbw.
Soon after lunch, Stevens drew Graham Clark (13) forward with an away-swinger that feathered the bat for a catch behind by Adam Rouse.
The veteran all-rounder then bamboozled 21-year-old Cameron Steel (34), who pushed inside the line at one that nipped off the pitch to clip the top of off stump.
Kent ought to have had a fifth victim when Pringle, on eight, edged an attempted drive against Coles into the cordon only for Gidman to down a regulation, waist-high chance at second slip.
Collingwood went past 500 championship runs for the season, and 16,000 in his first-class career, in posting his fourth 50 of the campaign from 84 balls. Then Pringle reached his 50 from 92 balls.
Pringle finally went to the second new ball for 71 after 158 minutes. Coles got one to dart down the slope and take the toe end of the bat for keeper Rouse to pull off a tumbling catch.
Durham, who have a host of injuries, gave a first-team debut to teenage all-rounder Matthew Potts from Middle Herrington, the Durham Academy’s leading wicket-taker this season.
Having spent their first full day in the field this season, Kent paceman Matt Coles was reasonably happy with his side’s five-wicket return.
“It wasn’t brilliant, but by no means the worse day we’ve had so far,” he said.
“There was a lot of playing and missing over the course of the day which are good signs going into the second day.
“Dropping a couple of catches hasn’t helped our cause but nobody means to drop them.
“I’m not upset with anyone, it’s just one of those things. We will stick together and hope to clean up the tail in the morning.
“I bowled a bit too wide, if I’m honest. We’ve got a fairly new ball to go with in the morning and possibly a little bit of due overnight will assist us.”