Love tears Middlesex apart

Durham 456-2 Middlesex
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The Independent Online

What a difference a decade makes. In 1992 – their first season in the big-time – Durham needed to put bums on seats as well as beef up the squad with some experienced players, so they bought in a veritable gallery of old masters, leaving few places for the local youngsters. That was then.

Ten years on it is a whole new ball game. Durham's squad is studded with locals, they have a thriving academy, their Riverside ground has been accorded international one-day status, next year they will stage their first Test Match, and, on yesterday's evidence, it should not be too much longer before Durham supporters enjoy the sight of an extremely talented local batsman marching out at home with the three crowns on his sweater.

Gordon Muchall may still be only 19 with just nine first class innings under his belt, but that did not stop him reaching his maiden championship hundred. The teenager was a model of maturity, keeping out the spinners, seeing off the pacemen and helping himself to 17 boundaries and a six in his three-hour stay.

He shared a second-wicket partnership of 251 with Martin Love and by the close Durham had secured maximum batting points. Australian Love went on to score a double hundred – the fourth of his career.

Earlier, Michael Gough had to be carried off on a stretcher with a nasty head wound, the Durham opener having turned his back on a delivery from Abdul Razzaq, ducking as he did so. The ball cracked into the back of his helmet, driving a bolt on the inside of the protective headgear into his scalp.

The batsman was given the all-clear after going to hospital, but was too shaken to return to the fray. Not that he was needed. Love and Muchall made sure of that.

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