Durham Dynamos got their Friends Provident Trophy defence off to a winning start yesterday with a nail-biting five-run win over Yorkshire, who had Tim Bresnan to thank for a memorable comeback at The Riverside.
The recently discarded England paceman Steve Harmison bowled a controlled spell of 10 overs, with figures of 2 for 40, to play his part in the North Division opener, but batsman Neil McKenzie took the main the plaudits. He made a gutsy 77 in a first-innings 220 all out, with Phil Mustard's brief but entertaining 25 the next highest.
Bresnan, who took 3 for 51 to top and tail the Durham innings, then nearly rescued the misfiring Yorkshire batsmen with 55 at nearly a run a ball after coming in at No 8.
Only fellow tail-ender Ajmal Shahzad (33) offered real support but Graham Onions wrapped up the points with the penultimate delivery of the match.
In the South/East division, Test batsman Andrew Strauss helped himself to 163 in 130 balls as Middlesex defeated Surrey, sharing stands of 133 and 98 with Ed Joyce and Owais Shah respectively. Strauss found The Oval's boundary ropes 23 times and cleared them on four occasions in a total of 315 for 6 and the Brown Caps never looked likely to overturn it. Gareth Berg took four wickets in the response, which subsided on 248 all out – 58 runs short of a revised Duckworth-Lewis target.
At Canterbury, Kent Spitfires made a good attempt at a forbidding second-innings chase but fell 31 runs short of Essex's 317 for five. A 181-run partnership between the England all-rounder Ravi Bopara – whose fine early-season form continued with a brisk 99 – and centurion Mark Pettini (119) laid the foundations for victory.
Martin van Jaarsveld led the response, hammering 62 runs in boundaries on his way to 124, but Andre Nel, Chris Wright and James Middlebrook each claimed two wickets to ensure no major partnerships were possible.