Cricket: Boon adds steely touch

Worcestershire 351-6 dec & 113-8 Durham 132 & 332 Match drawn
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The Independent Online
In A thrilling finish, not likely to be bettered in its excitement and tension in the County Championship this season, Durham and Worcestershire drew - scores level - at Chester-le-Street yesterday.

Worcestershire, chasing 114 to win in 25 overs, needed nine for victory in the last over, which was bowled by medium pacer Alan Walker. Gavin Haynes scored five from the first two deliveries and off the third Phillip Weston, educated at Durham school and son of the 1960s England rugby union international Mike Weston, struck two.

Worcestershire now needed two to win off three balls but Weston, on 42, swung wide and foolish - leaving his stumps shattered by Walker. Then Haynes was run out next ball.

Coming in cold, Steven Rhodes had the unenviable task of trying to hit the winning runs off the last ball. Walker bowled a short delivery which Rhodes hit to leg, but in racing back for what would have been the winning run he was also run out, by Steve Lugsden's throw. So Worcestershire fell one short on 113-8 after a memorable climax.

The heart-stopping finish was inspired by Durham's pace bowler - the unknown Martin Saggers who claimed 5 for 57 during an electrifying spell which destroyed what should have been a comfortable run chase that would have secured Worcestershire's first Championship win this season.

Saggers, thundering in, cut Worcester down to 82 for 5, claiming the prize wickets of Tim Curtis for nine, Graeme Hick on eight and Tom Moody for five. It was heroic stuff and provoked thoughts that he might even bowl Durham to the most improbable of victories. It wasn't to be, but if the spirit and effort can be repeated Durham will no longer be a pushover.

Earlier, before the excitement, Durham were bowled out in their second innings for 332, principally as a result of strong resistance from skipper David Boon, 57, and Michael Foster who scored 58 - his first half-century in the Championship.

Once again, Worcestershire's principal wicket taker was their opening bowler Alamgir Sheriyar. He followed his first innings of 4 for 53 with 5 for 54 in Durham's second innings, finishing with a highly satisfactory match analysis of 9 for 107. With such figures, he must have thought he'd turned in a match-winning performance. However, Saggers had other ideas.