County Championship round-up: Durham look to be biggest threat to Yorkshire title hopes


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The Independent Online

Batsman of the day

If anyone is to deny Yorkshire's quest for the 31st County Championship title of their 150-year history then Durham look to be their biggest threat. The competition's youngest county, bidding for a third title, moved into second place by defeating Surrey by an innings last week and threw down the gauntlet to the leaders in front of a 5,000 crowd at Scarborough, romping along at more than four runs per over after Paul Collingwood had won the toss and seized the chance to make first use of a good pitch, with Mark Stoneman and Ben Stokes making centuries.

The former has come into his own this season, a season which he has established already as his best in first-class cricket with almost 850 runs, including three hundreds – two of them against Yorkshire – and five other scores of 50 or higher.

Bowler of the day

At what age does a bowler reach his peak? In the case of Alan Richardson, seemingly, once he has turned 35. The veteran Worcestershire seamer took his 550th career first-class wicket when he dismissed Leicestershire opener Greg Smith at Grace Road. Of those, 237 had come in the last four seasons. The wicket also took the 38-year-old, who is with his fourth first-class county in a career that began in 1995, to the milestone of 50 wickets in a season for the fourth year in a row having achieved the feat only once previously. Richardson's rival in the bowling longevity stakes, Lancashire's 39-year-old Glen Chapple, needs just one more wicket to complete a half-century for the seventh time.


Whether they begin next season as defending champions or otherwise, Yorkshire can at least look forward to resuming county cricket's biggest rivalry – after a two-year hiatus – with the 2011 champions Lancashire unlikely to be denied a swift return to the First Division after the ignominy of being relegated as champions in 2012. The Red Rose county held a 34-point lead over second-placed Northamptonshire and, more importantly, a 65-point advantage over third-placed Essex as they began their match against Hampshire at Southport, where the 23-year-old opening batsman Luis Reece's impressive season continued with a fifth consecutive Championship half-century.