Cricket: Brown blunts Hayden's reply

Northamptonshire v Durham
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The Independent Online
WITH MORE than a day to go and Northamptonshire chasing a dim and distant target, Durham looked well set for their first championship victory of the season yesterday. But having already had victory snatched from them by the weather on two occasions, leaving them in an uncomfortably familiar position at the bottom of the table, the visitors will be anxious to wrap this one up.

With a lead of 226, Durham began the third day from a position of strength, despite failing to enforce the follow-on the previous afternoon and then losing their first six second-innings wickets for just 99. Three of those fell to the slow left arm of Michael Davies for just seven runs in five overs.

Yesterday, though, Durham were in less lenient mood. Their captain David Boon did not last long, fending off a lifter from Paul Taylor straight to short leg. But Paul Collingwood, resuming on 28, and Neil Killeen then added 87 for the eighth wicket to press home their advantage.

Collingwood, who reached his fifty with a lofted on-drive off Davies, finally fell for 72, after Matthew Hayden had belatedly turned to Tony Penberthy in an attempt to defy what looked like ideal batting conditions. With the final ball of his second over of the spell, Penberthy induced Collingwood to follow a wide one and wicket-keeper David Ripley did the rest.

In Penberthy's next over a slower ball deceived Killeen, who had added 45 to his career-best bowling figures of six for 20, then two balls after lunch, in Penberthy's third over, a wild swish by Stephen Harmison left Northamptonshire chasing 344 for victory.

They set about the Durham bowling in positive fashion, with Hayden leading from the front. Three boundaries in four balls off Simon Brown and a hooked six off Harmison followed, but it turned out to be little more than a cameo as the experienced Brown took his revenge with a ball that swung late before dislodging the bails.

Not long afterwards, Mal Loye went the same way as his captain, trying to cut one that was too close to his body, and Rob Bailey was pinned leg before in John Woods' first over. By tea, David Sales and Russell Warren had staged a recovery but it was already looking a hard task for the hosts.