Destructive Durham move closer to glory

Durham enhanced their chances of winning the LV= County Championship with a week to spare by taking command of a dramatic opening day at home to Nottinghamshire.

After 15 wickets fell in the first 49 overs, batting became much easier with Phil Mustard and Paul Collingwood sharing a stand of 121.

Mustard made a fluent 77 off 109 balls and the captain was unbeaten on 53 at stumps with his side on 207 for eight in reply to Nottinghamshire’s paltry 78 all out.

Durham require 21 points this week to guarantee top spot, although a lower tally will be needed if Yorkshire fail to gain a maximum haul against Middlesex. Collingwood’s men have four in the bag already.

The visitors chose to bat, despite the 10:15am start, and Durham took up where they left off at Derby on Saturday when they dismissed their hosts for 63.

Nottinghamshire asked for the early start each day so they can be sure to catch an early-evening flight to London on Friday prior to Saturday’s Yorkshire Bank 40 final against Glamorgan.

Of the top six batsmen on both sides 10 fell to edged catches as the ball did just enough, Andre Adams taking 4-27 in a 13-over opening spell for Nottinghamshire

Pitch inspector Jack Birkenshaw was out in the middle during both intervals and at the close, but the mastery with which Mustard stroked 11 fours suggested there was nothing untoward about the surface.

While Graham Onions and Chris Rushworth bowled superbly in sharing the first six wickets, five Nottinghamshire batsmen got out carelessly.

Among them was James Taylor, who padded up to an inswinger from Rushworth, and David Hussey drove lavishly at Onions and edged behind.

Skipper Chris Read has made a habit of bailing out his side in recent seasons but, after Onions rested, he tried to lift left-armer Jamie Harrison over midwicket and was bowled.

Harrison was also gifted the wicket of Luke Fletcher, caught in the deep, as he returned 3-4.

Adams swung wildly and lost his leg stump to Usman Arshad, who was nominated in advance to stand down once Ben Stokes arrived from Southampton following his appearance in the final NatWest Series one-day international against Australia.

Stokes went in to bat half an hour after his arrival with Durham 45 for four and was out second ball, edging a drive at Adams.

Mustard soon began to clip the ball sweetly to the midwicket boundary and there were eight fours in his 72-ball half-century.

He was again aiming for midwicket when he was bowled by Steven Mullaney, but his stand with the defiant Collingwood had transformed the game.

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