County Championship round-up: Durham look to be biggest threat to Yorkshire title hopes
Wednesday 28 August 2013
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.
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