Cricket: Brown quick to upset the Australians: Determined Durham manage to confuse the tourists while England's distaff side prepare to make a stylish stand against the world's finest

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Durham 385-8 dec

Australians 221 and 62-1

IAN BOTHAM found matters off the field so distracting yesterday that it may have come as a relief when an old knee injury forced him to miss most of the last two sessions at the Durham University ground. But even in his absence, extraordinary things were happening.

The Australians, having had the frailties of their seam bowling resources exposed on Saturday, performed sufficiently below par with the bat to enable Durham, for the first time in their brief first-class history, to enforce a follow-on. The flesh of Botham may have been unwilling but it appeared that some spirit, if not his, was having fun with his send-off.

The embarrassment was almost avoided by the Australians. An eighth-wicket partnership between the wicketkeeper, Ian Healy, and the seam bowler, Paul Reiffel, added 100 and ended only 24 short of the safety threshold but then Simon Brown, who had a memorable day, removed Reiffel and Tim May with consecutive deliveries before claiming the last Australian, Wayne Holdsworth, by taking a sharp return catch. The tourists were thus dismissed for 221, 164 runs behind.

Brown, a quickish left-armer, finished 22.4-1-7-70, which was both a career best and the best analysis by any Durham bowler in first-class cricket. Brown was the country's leading wicket-taker in June last year but faded in the second half of the season when the strain of carrying the thrust of Durham's attack began to tell on his young shoulders.

Now that Anderson Cummins can share the new ball the burden is lighter and this was a welcome return to form. He was actually on a hat-trick twice yesterday, having dismissed Steve Waugh and Damien Martyn back to back before Allan Border blocked out the next ball. Healy took less care in the same situation later and had Phil Berry spotted the batsman's miscued drive a little sooner at mid-on Brown might have had still more to be excited about.

There was probably more in the pitch than appearances suggested and cloud cover aided Brown's swing but the Australians did not help themselves. Martyn will be particularly disappointed. An impressive performance here might have earned him a Test place at Headingley but there was nothing impressive about the loose stroke that resulted in a catch at first slip.

David Boon passed 1,000 runs for the tour on his way to 27.

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