Durham reach knockout stages of the Royal London Cup with a game to spare
Durham reached the knockout stages of the Royal London Cup with a game to spare by beating Worcestershire by 46 runs at New Road.
The visitors are guaranteed a top-two finish – whatever the outcome of their final home game against Hampshire – under the average points per game system brought in after Gloucestershire’s game with Middlesex was cancelled due to coronavirus.
Only Essex can overhaul Durham, who are assured of a home tie in either the play-off stages or the semi-finals.
Durham captain Scott Borthwick opted to bat first and another fine performance from opener Alex Lees helped them score 289 for nine.
Lees top-scored with 93 and is the leading run-scorer in the competition with 468 from six innings, overtaking his team-mate Graham Clark (419).
The Rapids were then dismissed for 243 in 45.1 overs despite a fine 76 from Jake Libby, who was one of three victims of spinner Liam Trevaskis after Paul van Meekeren inflicted the early damage.
Lees was the dominant partner in an opening stand of 73 with Clark, who on 28 swept a Brett D’Oliveira full toss straight to backward square leg.
Borthwick was run out for 10 after he failed to beat Ed Barnard’s throw from backward point to wicketkeeper Gareth Roderick.
Jacques Banton – brother of Tom – struck in his first over as Cameron Bancroft gave him the charge and was bowled.
David Bedingham upped the tempo and struck successive balls from D’Oliveira for six over long off and long on.
He survived a caught and bowled off Josh Baker on 41 and brought up his half-century in the same over with his fourth six off just 34 balls.
Adam Finch was also hit for two sixes in two balls by Bedingham but the same over brought the downfall of Lees as he was bowled by a delivery which nipped back.
Bedingham advanced to 66 from 41 balls before he lofted Baker straight to Banton at long off.
Sean Dickson failed to beat D’Oliveira’s throw from deep midwicket attempting a second run off Barnard and a slower ball from the all-rounder deceived Liam Trevaskis.
Ned Eckersley gave the Durham innings some late impetus with 36 off 27 balls before he went lbw to Finch hitting across the line and Barnard dismissed Luke Doneathy in the same manner.
Van Meekeren made two early breakthroughs for Durham, pulling off a fine low one-handed catch to dismiss D’Oliveira and then trapping Tom Fell lbw.
Jack Haynes came down the wicket to Trevaskis and was stumped and Roderick was bowled sweeping at the same bowler.
Libby completed a 49-ball half-century but he was fighting a lone hand and Barnard, on 15, swept a Clark full toss straight to deep midwicket.
The Rapids last realistic hope ended when Libby, having struck five fours in his 88-ball knock, was caught at extra cover off Trevaskis.