Flintoff back in the groove but Durham on top

Durham 244 & 122-6 Lancashire 116

Winning the County Championship last season may have been the fulfilment of a dream for Durham but they clearly have no intention of resting on their achievement.

Last week, they blew away Hampshire, a genuine contender, by an innings and 110 runs before noon on the third day; this time, it is Lancashire who are feeling the North-east wind.

It will be a surprise if a fourth day is needed in this match. There were enough dismissals yesterday – 18 in total – to prompt enquiries about the pitch from anyone who was not present, and from some who were. Lancashire, pleased with themselves for keeping Durham to 244, could muster only 116 in reply; Durham, who lost their first four second-innings wickets for 10, closed six down.

Yet there are no demons in this surface. There may have been some in the minds of the batsmen. Then again, on both sides, they were up against fast bowling of the highest quality. Indeed, the quartet who inflicted most of the damage would amount to a pretty tasty England pace attack.

Steve Harmison, Graham Onions, Andrew Flintoff and Saj Mahmood: bring those four together, with radars locked on and body parts fully working, and even an Australian dressing room might seem a nervous place.

Flintoff took the first two wickets yesterday, with consecutive deliveries. Harmison and Onions then shared eight in Lancashire’s demolition before Mahmood laid into Durham’s top order. With good bounce and just enough purchase, it was a sporting pitch that suited them, but if they could just find a way to have all their planets in alliance a little more often, many frustrated brows could be unfurrowed.

Onions should be excluded from that assessment. In terms of unreliability, whether physical or mental, the other three have form. Onions, for the most part, has identified his talent and delivered, this season particularly. So far, in all forms of cricket, he has 48 wickets, 10 of those in the Test series against West Indies.

He is a feisty character, though. When Ashwell Prince, leaving the stage with reluctance after umpire Neil Mallender had raised the finger to an lbw shout, responded with a hard stare and some choice words, Onions simply gave some back.

Harmison saw off Francois du Plessis, Lancashire’s sole batting success, among his 4 for 28 but not with a good ball. The one he enjoyed most did for Flintoff, whom he surprised with – fuller delivery that reached the stumps via an inside edge – revenge for being out first ball to his mate earlier.

Flintoff – Peter Moores will report should England ask their former coach – bowled splendidly, conceding one run the first six overs of his opening second-innings spell. He took the wicket of Phil Mustard, whose 51 had been Durham’s redemption at the start of the day.

Blackwell, unbeaten on 65 after being dropped off Flintoff on 18, led their recovery in the evening and, if the bowlers continue to hold sway, the champions may already have a winning lead.

peopleFrankie Boyle responds to referendum result in characteristically offensive style
Lewis Hamilton will start the Singapore Grand Prix from pole, with Nico Rosberg second and Daniel Ricciardo third
F1... for floodlit Singapore Grand Prix
Arts and Entertainment
'New Tricks' star Dennis Waterman is departing from the show after he completes filming on two more episodes
tvHe is only remaining member of original cast
Arts and Entertainment
tvHighs and lows of the cast's careers since 2004
Have you tried new the Independent Digital Edition apps?
Fans hold up a scarf at West Ham vs Liverpool
footballAfter Arsenal's clear victory, focus turns to West Ham vs Liverpool
New Articles
i100... she's just started school
New Articles
Life and Style
Couples have been having sex less in 2014, according to a new survey
Arts and Entertainment
musicBiographer Hunter Davies has collected nearly a hundred original manuscripts
New Articles
i100... despite rising prices
Caption competition
Caption competition
Latest stories from i100
Daily Quiz
Have you tried new the Independent Digital Edition apps?
Independent Dating

By clicking 'Search' you
are agreeing to our
Terms of Use.

Career Services

Day In a Page

Scottish referendum: The Yes vote was the love that dared speak its name, but it was not to be

Despite the result, this is the end of the status quo

Boyd Tonkin on the fall-out from the Scottish referendum
Manolo Blahnik: The high priest of heels talks flats, Englishness, and why he loves Mary Beard

Manolo Blahnik: Flats, Englishness, and Mary Beard

The shoe designer who has been dubbed 'the patron saint of the stiletto'
The Beatles biographer reveals exclusive original manuscripts of some of the best pop songs ever written

Scrambled eggs and LSD

Behind The Beatles' lyrics - thanks to Hunter Davis's original manuscript copies
'Normcore' fashion: Blending in is the new standing out in latest catwalk non-trend

'Normcore': Blending in is the new standing out

Just when fashion was in grave danger of running out of trends, it only went and invented the non-trend. Rebecca Gonsalves investigates
Dance’s new leading ladies fight back: How female vocalists are now writing their own hits

New leading ladies of dance fight back

How female vocalists are now writing their own hits
Mystery of the Ground Zero wedding photo

A shot in the dark

Mystery of the wedding photo from Ground Zero
His life, the universe and everything

His life, the universe and everything

New biography sheds light on comic genius of Douglas Adams
Save us from small screen superheroes

Save us from small screen superheroes

Shows like Agents of S.H.I.E.L.D are little more than marketing tools
Reach for the skies

Reach for the skies

From pools to football pitches, rooftop living is looking up
These are the 12 best hotel spas in the UK

12 best hotel spas in the UK

Some hotels go all out on facilities; others stand out for the sheer quality of treatments
These Iranian-controlled Shia militias used to specialise in killing American soldiers. Now they are fighting Isis, backed up by US airstrikes

Widespread fear of Isis is producing strange bedfellows

Iranian-controlled Shia militias that used to kill American soldiers are now fighting Isis, helped by US airstrikes
Topshop goes part Athena poster, part last spring Prada

Topshop goes part Athena poster, part last spring Prada

Shoppers don't come to Topshop for the unique
How to make a Lego masterpiece

How to make a Lego masterpiece

Toy breaks out of the nursery and heads for the gallery
Meet the ‘Endies’ – city dwellers who are too poor to have fun

Meet the ‘Endies’ – city dwellers who are too poor to have fun

Urbanites are cursed with an acronym pointing to Employed but No Disposable Income or Savings
Paisley’s decision to make peace with IRA enemies might remind the Arabs of Sadat

Ian Paisley’s decision to make peace with his IRA enemies

His Save Ulster from Sodomy campaign would surely have been supported by many a Sunni imam