|Scorecard:||Somerset v Durham|
|Event:||LV County Championship 2013|
DateLine: 9th June 2013
Somerset v Durham
John Ward at Taunton, day 3
Close of play: Somerset (458 and 7/0) v Durham (493)
Like King Charles II, this match between Somerset and Durham is taking an unconscionably long time in dying, thanks to a very flat pitch and much innocuous bowling, especially by Somerset. A result is still possible in theory, should Somerset collapse in their second innings, but that would be a startling change in the run of play. Mark Stonemanís sixth first-class career century was the main achievement of the day, but Durham scored all down the order and took a first-innings lead of 35 just before close of play.
Durham were 163 for three overnight, with their opening batsman Stoneman still there on 78. He was now joined by Ben Stokes, and progressed steadily towards his century. He did not indulge in some of the flashy strokes that played a part in his first fifty, but made sure he cruised safely home off 160 balls. Even then he did not open up, but continued to accumulate until he reached 122. At this point he was apparently deceived by a slower delivery from Peter Trego, which prompted him to poke a soft catch into the covers. He faced 215 balls, hit 19 fours and left with the score at 236 for four.
Ben Stokes showed more aggression at times, reaching his fifty (70 balls) with a huge drive for six off George Dockrell which disappeared into the St Jamesís Churchyard. However at 57, just before lunch, he slogged a ball from Dean Elgar straight at mid-off, departing at 283 for five.
After the interval Phil Mustard played a bright innings of 30 in 34 balls, and then flicked a ball from Gemaal Hussain down to the long-leg fieldsman; 324 for six. This brought Michael Richardson out to join Paul Collingwood, and a major partnership ensued. Both scored fifties: Richardson reached his first, off 63 balls; in contrast, Collingwood took 119. The captain was in no hurry, grinding out the runs, content to let his young partner have his head. At tea Durham were 407 for six, with the partnership then worth 83, of which Richardson had scored 61.
The stand eventually realized 101, but at this point Collingwood called Richardson for a risky single and then changed his mind, the latter being unable to get back and was run out for 70, a positive innings off 73 balls, taking the score to 425 for seven. Durham were now only 33 runs behind the Somerset total.
With Collingwood still content to collect air-miles, Mark Wood scored 20 out of the next 26 before being caught at first slip off Jamie Overton; 451 for eight. Still 2 runs behind Somerset, Ryan Buckley (4) holed out at fine leg, but then, with Collingwood on strike, a wild leg-side ball by Overton went for four byes and Durham took the lead.
With Graham Onions making a few good hits in 17 not out, Durham took their total to 493. Collingwood was last man out, playing on to Hussain for a dour 70 off 174 balls. Overton returned the best bowling figures of three for 96, but much of his bowling was far too short; Dockrell bowled better for 48 overs and received less than justice with just one wicket for 151.
In the four overs possible before the close in their second innings, Somerset scored 7 runs without loss of a wicket. Only twenty wickets have fallen over three days, so a remarkable turnaround is necessary for anybody even to sniff victory at any time on the fourth. Perhaps it is time the ECB [itch inspectors came to examine pitches around the country that are too flat.
(Article: Copyright © 2013 John Ward)