Durham registered their first win of the season after successfully chasing a target of 260 against Hampshire at Chester-le-Street, where Ian Blackwell offered a reminder of the power he can wield with a bat by crashing 62 off only 40 balls in what was effectively the match-clinching innings.
The former Somerset player has filled Durham's need for a wicket-taking spin bowler, and five wickets in this match underlined his value in that department. But he remains a formidable force in his prime role as destructive middle-order batsman.
It was his taking the lead in partnerships with Kyle Coetzer and 18-year-old Ben Stokes that paved the way for Stokes and Phil Mustard to take Durham over the line with 23 balls to spare in a five-wicket win.
It had been a sensational catch by Callum Thorp that gave Durham their opportunity, just when it seemed Hampshire would muster enough second-innings runs to put the game beyond the reach of the champions.
Liam Plunkett struck an important blow when he had Nic Pothas caught behind for 76 but it was the Hampshire captain's seventh-wicket partner, Sean Ervine, who threatened to hit Durham out of contention, cracking two sixes and three fours in a brisk 46.
But when Ervine went for another maximum to the long-on boundary, he had reckoned without the acrobatics of the 35-year-old Australian, who flung himself high to his left to take a brilliant catch.
That ended the Hampshire innings at 298, leaving Durham to chase 260 in 57 overs, which they had reduced to 182 from 36 at tea with eight wickets in hand. They suffered a setback when Dale Benkenstein fell to James Tomlinson but Coetzer and the explosive Blackwell added 67 in 11 overs for the fourth wicket, Coetzer's part ending when he had reached 72, at which point Durham needed 72 in an hour.
Kent took two wickets in the space of six balls in the mid-session to unsettle Yorkshire's hopes of chasing an unlikely last-day target of 392 in 91 overs at Canterbury, where the match ended in a draw but yielded enough points for Yorkshire to stay top of the early Division One table.
On a flat pitch, Yorkshire's openers Adam Lyth (84) and Joe Sayers (61) put on 155 in 49 overs before Lyth glanced a ball from James Hockley and Geraint Jones took a leg-side catch behind the stumps. In the next over, with no addition to the total, Sayers steered a ball from off-spinner James Tredwell to first slip and a stand of 123 in 27 overs between Tim Bresnan (70) and Anthony McGrath (55) was ultimately not enough.
Derbyshire's captain Chris Rogers (51 not out) steered his side to an eight-wicket victory over Glamorgan in Division Two at Derby. Opener Stephen Peters struck a career-best 183 not out as Northamptonshire made light of a target of 394 to beat Middlesex at Northampton, with visiting skipper Shaun Udal left to rue his early declaration after calling Middlesex in at 258 for 3 six overs into the final day.Reuse content