County round-up: Stoneman keeps Durham title hopes just about alive

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The Independent Online

Durham were conceding defeat in the chase for the Championship after they lost at Nottinghamshire last week and with only two matches left against their key rivals' three they are clearly at a disadvantage.

Nonetheless, they trailed leaders Lancashire by only 10 points going into the last two weeks and should they prosper while others struggle in this round they might wonder if they wrote themselves off prematurely.

As Durham established a strong platform against Sussex at Hove, built around a first hundred of the season for Mark Stoneman, Warwickshire encountered more difficulty than they expected from Yorkshire at Edgbaston and Somerset scraped a solitary batting point against bottom-of-the-table Hampshire at Taunton.

Stoneman, just back from time out with a hand injury, followed his 74 at Trent Bridge by passing his previous highest first-class score of 118 at Hove with his second Championship century – his second against Sussex, for that matter, in reaching 128.

Warwickshire, who began the day three points behind Lancashire and with Chris Woakes back from international duty and Rikki Clarke from injury, put Yorkshire in at Edgbaston but managed only one breakthrough in the first four hours as Joe Sayers, captaining the side, led from the front.

With a painstaking 84 from 193 balls, Sayers shared a partnership of 134 with the recalled Adam Lyth. Yorkshire did not make the most of a good position, slipping from 181 for 1 to 254 for 8 at the close.

Somerset, reeling from the loss of captain Marcus Trescothick to an injury that may keep him out for the remainder of the season, were 86 for 7 before being rescued by Alfonso Thomas and Murali Kartik (59 not out) but half-centuries by Jimmy Adams and Michael Carberry increased their woes.

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