Cricket: Durham assaulted by Aymes

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by david llewellyn at Southampton

Durham 229-5; Hampshire 230-3 Hants win by seven wickets

NOT EVEN Durham's highest Sunday League score of the season was enough to stop Hampshire yesterday. The Durham attack was assaulted in almost criminal fashion as John Stephenson and Robin Smith committed grievous bodily harm for 20 murderous overs.

Then it was death by a thousand cuts, prods and dabs as Giles White, celebrating the award of his county cap with a half century, and top scorer Adrian Aymes (another fifty) showed how to milk an attack in a repeat of their successful NatWest quarter final partnership of last week in which they compiled an unbroken 118 runs and brought Hampshire their seventh Sunday win with more than two overs to spare.

The crowd were kept on the edge of their seats from the first over after Jason Laney played the first legitimate ball of the innings on to his stumps. Hampshire were 1 for 1 courtesy of Melvyn Betts first ball wide.

Then Smith and Stephenson did their stuff. Stephenson was particularly savage on Betts smashing him once for a six out into Northlands Road. He reached his third successive Sunday fifty off 55 balls, Smith followed shortly after, having needed three fewer deliveries. Smith was first out, yorked by Neil Killeen, and two balls later Stephenson hit the same bowler hard and low to short extra cover where Nick Speak took the catch.

But that one-two merely let in Aymes, whose unbeaten 60 was a career best in the competition, and with White produced a model partnership to steer Hampshire home in front of a happy crowd, who had been busily stocking up with NatWest semi-final tickets during the day.

The Durham batsmen had also given the crowd something to buzz about. Their captain, David Boon, who has agreed to stay on for a further season, looked ripe for a big score but fell a little short of expectation. But he was followed by Paul Collingwood and Jon Lewis and they proved a real handful. Only Cardigan Connor and Peter Hartley managed any semblance of control over the pair of them.

Lewis's fifty came off 48 balls and included a big straight six and by the close he had a total of half a dozen 4s. He and Collingwood added 88 in 14 overs. Collingwood holing out going for a third six. He had reached his half century in a more sedate 56 balls and hit a total of four 4s. Lewis finished unbeaten on 67 in 57 balls.