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Rampant Bears ease past Durham

Warwickshire completed resounding back-to-back home wins in the LV=County Championship with an eight-wicket triumph over Durham at Edgbaston.

The Bears followed up their 181-run victory over Worcestershire last week with another emphatic success to suggest that they are genuine Division One title-contenders this season.

Durham’s title-credentials, meanwhile, took a knock as they folded to their second defeat in three games. They need to bounce back quickly when they face Worcestershire at New Road starting on Sunday.

Resuming on the final morning on 189 for four in their second innings, Durham needed to bat pretty much all day but, despite the sustained defiance of Mark Stoneman, who made 111 off 216 balls, they were all out for 327 soon after lunch.

Warwickshire reached their target of 63 with a session to spare and without requiring Varun Chopra to bat, the captain having taken a blow on the leg fielding at silly-point. He is expected to be fit to face Worcestershire Rapids in the NatWest T20 Blast on Friday evening. 

Stoneman desperately needed some support but soon lost two partners early in the morning session. Paul Collingwood stalked away clearly unhappy with the decision having been adjudged lbw to Rikki Clarke then Phil Mustard edged Keith Barker to third slip – the left-arm seamer’s eighth wicket of the match to go with his century.

Stoneman remained unbowed and reached an excellent century from 179 balls with 15 fours but then departed in infuriating fashion. As non-striker, he embarked on a single but was sent back by Paul Coughlin and was easily run-out by a throw from 12th man Aaron Thomason, on for Richard Jones who suffered a foot injury.

That effectively removed Durham’s last hope of escaping with a draw. As if to atone for his part in Stoneman’s downfall, Coughlin dug in deep for 49 but perished soon after lunch when he lifted Clarke into the gully. 

Clarke’s next wicket, John Hastings taken at extra-cover by Jonathan Trott, ended Barker’s hopes of becoming only the third Warwickshire player to score a century and take 10 wickets in a Championship match.

The left-armer had to settle for 102 not out and match figures of 9-157 after he took the last wicket, Chris Rushworth caught in the slips.

Facing a target of 63 in 55 overs, Warwickshire had some early wobbles when Will Porterfield skied the third ball of the innings and Trott suffered the ill-fortune to be run-out backing up but Ian Westwood and Laurie Evans eased their side home.

Barker said: “These two wins give us a good platform to build on. In these last two games we have been more ‘Warwickshire’ than we had in the two before that and hopefully we can carry that on now. 

“We have got a very strong and deep squad with depth in all departments and a lot of players knocking on the door who I am sure will get their opportunity at some point this year. We are fortunate in that way.

“I think we will always be up there or thereabouts in championship cricket especially. It is just a question of getting on a roll and making sure we are up there in contention coming towards the end of the season.”

Durham coach Jon Lewis said: “Since we played Somerset at Taunton our first innings haven’t been great.

“We have won a couple of games with excellent fourth-innings performances but we have had a 170-run first-innings deficit at Lord’s and 270 in this match and that’s not a great place to win games from. That needs to be turned round if we are to be successful.

“I think Keith Barker enjoys playing against us. I wouldn’t quite say he has got a psychological hold over us but he is a very good new-ball bowler who moves the ball late.

“Paul Collingwood played him well and Mark Stoneman batted very well throughout the second innings.”

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