Cricket: Durham's fleeting chance

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The Independent Online
DURHAM had a clear sight of a second Championship victory of the season for a time yesterday, but the afternoon passed in a blur.

They bowled out Gloucestershire for 169 at Gateshead Fell to secure a first-innings lead of 136 and how they must have wished that had been 14 runs bigger to allow them to enforce the follow-on. Durham's second innings crumbled and they lost six wickets in stretching the lead beyond 200.

When Anderson Cummins, Simon Brown and John Wood were turning the screw, the prospect of Gloucestershire following on was high. But from a low point of 86 for 6, they recovered courtesy of Tim Hancock's 30 and an unbeaten 26 from Michael Smith, who then helped himself to the wickets of Saxelby, Morris and Bainbridge to put Durham on the back foot.

It was a good day for all-round performances. Neil Williams was heroic for Middlesex against Hampshire at Southampton. He scored 63 at the end of the Middlesex innings and in tandem with the promising young seamer Richard Johnson, who scored 47, helped put on 109 for the last two wickets. Both fell to Martin Thursfield, carrying his haul to six wickets.

When Williams got the ball in his hand, he ripped out three of Hampshire's top order and then picked up Winston Benjamin and Adrian Aymes as the home side were reduced to 203 for 9.

Craig White carried his century for Yorkshire against Essex from an overnight 102 to 108 before being stranded when Mark Ilott skittled out the last two. Essex failed to come to terms with White's off- spin, but his 5 for 40 was more predictable than the 3 for 33 from 19- year-old seamer Chris Silverwood as Essex were bowled out for 188, a first-innings deficit of 119.

Batting was easier at Taunton where Andy Hayhurst did not allow a brief break for rain to disturb his steady progress to a century. His 11 not out, from Somerset's 355 for 9 declared, took him 355 minutes and included nine fours and a six. Dominic Ostler and Roger Twose gave Warwickshire's reply a steady start.

At Canterbury, Matthew Fleming and Steve Marsh both scored 72 as Kent took their overnight 403 for six to 556, but Lancashire's response was going well until Min Patel, who had scored 39, took three wickets for five runs in 13 deliveries.