Cricket: Boon time for winning Durham

Durham 251 and 183-8 dec

Kent 167 and 132 Durham won by 135 runs

At 10 to six yesterday evening that rarest of events on the cricket circuit happened - a victory for Durham in the County Championship. Their victory by 135 runs against Kent, the Championship leaders before this contest, was their first for 24 matches since beating Nottinghamshire in September 1995.

As the kind of celebrations normally reserved for the North-east's football teams broke out, praise must be given to David Boon , Durham's skipper, whose calm but forceful leadership has turned the side from consistent losers into a positive, competitive unit.

It was Boon's seldom-used off breaks which claimed two priceless wickets to earn this remarkable win. Before this season, Boon had taken only nine wickets in his career. But he broke through just when it mattered to remove his rival Steve Marsh and take the last wicket of Martin McCague, who was caught at silly midoff by John Morris.

Kent were dismissed for 132 with only just 5.4 overs left of a tense and entertaining final day, on which the weather played an influential part. Indeed, Boon had to bowl because it was too dark for Durham's pace bowlers to resume.

Durham's victory onslaught was led by pace bowlers Simon Brown (4 for 57) and Melvyn Betts (2 for 25), as Kent struggled to chase 268. The pair soon had Kent floundering, with Betts gaining the early breakthrough, combining a lively pace with accuracy and the ability to swing the ball in helpful conditions.

Matthew Walker failed for the second time as he departed lbw for one run and shortly afterwards Kent were cut down to 5-2, as Trevor Ward fell caught behind to keeper Martin Speight, his sixth catch of the game, off Brown.

Kent were soon sinking at 24 for 4 but Durham had to wait for what seemed an endless period to claim the wicket they needed most, Alan Wells. But Brown, whose opening spell turned into a marathon of 18 overs and 3 for 49, achieved that breakthrough as Speight claimed another catch. Wells' fall plunged Kent to 41 for 5.

Despite a stand of 52 from Matthew Fleming and Paul Strang, without a rescuing downpour Kent were unable to stave off defeat.

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