Rudolph double leaves Durham on ropes

Yorkshire 610-6 dec Durham 54-3

Jon Culley
Sunday 23 October 2011 09:05

Durham's troubles continued to mount here, where the champions need to reach 461 merely to avoid the follow-on after a second day entirely dominated by Yorkshire and most notably by Jacques Rudolph, who compiled an epic innings spanning seven-and-three-quarter hours to eclipse his own personal best. With Durham three down at last night's close, their prospects do not look good.

Rudolph, the South African left-hander, finished unbeaten on 228, bettering the 222 not out he made on his Test debut against Bangladesh in 2003. The runs took his aggregate for the season to 473 already, putting him on course to be Yorkshire's most prolific batsman for the fourth campaign running. How grateful they must be that his controversial signing in 2007 was not blocked in the first place, given that he had played Test cricket only five months earlier, and furthermore that he was still deemed to meet the revised Kolpak criteria this season.

While no one accumulates 140 runs in boundaries without playing a decent shot or two, as double hundreds go this was more workmanlike than classical but then there is a tendency these days to question the merits of any batting feat in cricket that does not happen at breakneck speed.

Sometimes a more measured approach is exactly what is required and on a pitch with no great pace scoring quick runs has not always been easy, especially against those in this injury-hit Durham attack who have been capable of landing the ball in the right place. Ian Blackwell, who bowled a quarter of Durham's overs but conceded only a sixth of the runs, supplied ample proof of that.

Yorkshire's disinclination to take risks meant they collected only three batting bonus points as Rudolph and Anthony McGrath took their third-wicket partnership beyond 200 but unless the weather lets them down they have an opportunity to claim a third win in four matches, especially if Adil Rashid and David Wainwright can be effective on a dry pitch, as the former's bowling of Will Smith and nightwatchman Mark Davies with consecutive balls last night suggested would be the case. Tino Best, the West Indian paceman making his Yorkshire debut, might not have much to do.

Nothing is going right for Durham, who have already dropped as many bowling points – five – this season as they did in the last three seasons combined. When Dale Benkenstein ran out McGrath for 105 he twisted his knee in the process, although he was able to bat.

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