Stoneman sizzles in the sun

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DURHAM batsman Mark Stoneman hopes his undefeated century against Scotland Saltires is a sign of better things to come.

Stoneman looked in imperious form as he put the visitors to the sword to seal a second Clydesdale Bank 40 win for the hosts at the Emirates ICG yesterday.

An opening stand of 207 between Stoneman and Phil Mustard meant Geoff Cook’s side were always in command as they chased down the Scots total of 258-4.

And Stoneman, who carried his bat for 136, was delighted to get his maiden one-day century for the county.

He said: “I’ve had a couple of starts this year and that was probably one of my worst ones, but I’ve managed to get in and be there at the end, which was a big positive.

“That’s my first one-day 100 and it’s nice to get that monkey of my back.”

Now he hopes both he and Durham can use the result as a springboard to success.

“When the group was first drawn it was labelled the group of death, because it had three semi-finalists from last year’s competition in it,” he said. “But if you can get one or two results, and put a good run together, you have always got a chance.

“I don’t think there’s any side we are scared of if we are playing good cricket. We have got a good mobile unit in the field and good bowlers, and the batting line-up goes really deep, so I think we have got a good chance in this competition.”

It looked like it might be a far tougher prospect for Durham, when Scotland batting first posted their second highest 40-over total.

South African left-hander Jean Symes hit 110 runs off 94 balls as a number of Durham bowlers proved expensive.

But Stoneman and Mustard were always on top of the required run-rate, and when the wicket-keeper batsman perished for 91 – caught by Alasdair Evans off the bowling of Matthew Parker – it was just a case of seeing the job done.

Ben Stokes made just nine before he returned to the pavilion, but Gordon Muchall joined Stoneman in the middle as Durham cruised to an eight-wicket victory.

Afterwards a delighted Stoneman was quick to praise his opening partner, Mustard.

“Philip played fantastic,” he said. “We managed to take our power play straight after theirs and we were always ahead of the run-rate.

“A 200-run partnership doesn’t always come around in one-day cricket, it was a nice wicket and nice weather, which always helps.”

Durham return to County Championship action on Wednesday when they play host to last season’s champions Lancashire (11am start).

Lancashire, like Durham, have struggled this season in the four-day game, and are just two points ahead of Cook’s side who are in bottom place, although the current title holders have played a game more.

Looking ahead to Wednesday, Stoneman hopes that he and his team-mates can take confidence gained from the victory over the Scots into the longer form of the game.

He added: “Hopefully, a good week here can get us up and running. The league table doesn’t lie, but we have got a hell of a squad, and everyone is working hard to turn things around.

“Once we get that first win in the championship then hopefully, we can go on a run and get ourselves going.”