Cricket: Parker lifts the gloom

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Durham 234 and 11-0

Middlesex first innings forfeit

PITY the poor Durham supporters. If the weakest team in the championship were not enough to bear, they are lucky to see cricket played at all this summer. This is Durham's third four-day game at home yet the total of hours played does not add up to four days.

Two days effectively have been lost in this match to add to the three washed out at Stockton last month. When the sun shone at Darlington two weeks ago, Kent had won by the third afternoon.

At least the handful of spectators who braved a raw day yesterday could applaud Paul Parker's second century of the year, the 46th of his career.

After a 4.45 start, Parker and seam bowler John Wood provided most of the 59 runs Durham added to the 175 for 7 they had reached on Thursday. Parker threw finesse into the teeth of an icy gale to secure the 15 he needed for his century. Soon afterwards he was bowled off an inside edge as he attempted to drive Mark Feltham towards mid-off.

After quickly claiming the last two wickets Middlesex forfeited their first innings. They have their eyes on the top of the table and left the onus on Durham to set a target tomorrow.