Durham 250 (Stokes 49, Borthwick 45) and 116 (Thomas 4-29, Trego 3-24) beat Somerset 132 (Rushworth 6-58, Onions 4-41) and 186 (Kieswetter 72, Onions 3-62, Stokes 3-34) by 48 runsScorecard
Graham Onions is back in the land of High Fives with Durham after an inactive winter for England © Getty Images
Eight wickets left and 105 needed for victory would have been a breeze at Taunton in midsummer. But Somerset were in Chester-le-Street in April. The experience will stay bitter in the memory until the trees are in leaf: they not only lost, they failed by 48 runs.
Durham were revitalised last season under Paul Collingwood and their cricket remained demanding and competitive. They have now gone seven Championship matches unbeaten and those who regarded them as relegation prospects have properly never seen Graham Onions and Chris Rushworth with the bit between their teeth on a pitch with a bit of sap in it.
Collingwood had especial reason for satisfaction considering that Durham had only managed a few days’ practice outdoors in pre-season conditions that made Taunton, however chill the locals felt it, seem positively Mediterranean in comparison.
“When games are pretty close you have to apply pressure for long periods of time and I thought we did that well,” he said. “It looked at one point like Somerset were going to do it and the pitch had flattened out. But you are only one wicket away, in games like this, from going through a team and that is what happened. You could sense the pressure was building.”
Craig Kieswetter assembled Somerset’s only resistance. They took their overnight 96 for 2 to 130 on a morning which finally heralded Spring, but James Hildreth played no stroke at Onions to lose his off stump. Kieswetter, whose nhalf-century had skipped along in 72 balls, became becalmed, scoring only four runs in the next hour as partners came and went. He knew he could not take stock forever, but he never received a semblance of support.
Jos Buttler, now an England one-day wicketkeeping rival as well as county colleague, was lbw without scoring. He looked unfortunate, struck quite high as he stepped across his stumps to work Rushworth to leg, but it was only the sixth ball he had received and it smacked of a player with a one-day mentality.
Kieswetter, who had also had a good match with the gloves, reached 72, his most dominant moment coming when he struck Callum Thorp straight for six. He also survived a sharp chance to Scott Borthwick at second slip before he was ninth out, for 72, bowled by Ben Stokes as he looked to farm the strike.
Somerset’s last pair clung on for nine overs, and lkunch was delayed, before Steve Kirby drove Rushworth to mid-off.
Stokes, relieved to be playing cricket again after he was sent home from the England Lions tour in disgrace because of his damaging tendency towards a late-night thirst, could also point to a satisfying match: 71 runs in all plus 3 for 34 as Durham pulled off a heartening victory. He will have deserved a pint – and as the match had finished at lunch time, he had a good chance of downing it before the curfew.