Newspaper article Evening Chronicle (Newcastle, England)

Fairytale Down by Riverside as Durham Lift County Crown

Newspaper article Evening Chronicle (Newcastle, England)

Fairytale Down by Riverside as Durham Lift County Crown

Article excerpt

Byline: By JEFF BOWRON

DURHAM are officially the leading side in domestic county cricket after they beat Kent by an innings and 71 runs to win the LV County Championship for the first time in their history.

After just 16 years as a first class county, Durham have been transformed from whipping boys to top dogs.

A fairytale rise to the upper echelons of the game has seen the Riversiders follow their Lord's triumph in the Friends Provident Trophy last year with the top prize of them all.

While Durham consigned Kent to a first relegation to the Second Division, Hampshire ensured the championship pennant would be flying over the Riverside.

The Rose Bowl outfit, whose two narrow wins over Durham almost scuppered Geoff Cook's side's title hopes, pulled off an impressive 203 run win over leaders Nottinghamshire.

Had Notts won Durham's maximum points return from Canterbury would have been in vain, but Hampshire never looked back after they posted a huge 449-5 in their second innings.

Durham had set up an historic win themselves with a magnificent second innings score of 500-8 with Gareth Breese, Michael Di Venuto, Phil Mustard and Will Smith all making big scores.

While Durham took the five wickets they needed to beat Kent, Nottinghamshire were never in the hunt and lost their last wicket on 238 at 3.57pm to officially crown Durham as champions by eight points.

By then the victorious Durham squad were well on their way back to the North East marking each Notts wicket to fall with another celebratory beer on the team coach.

It was captain Dale Benkenstein who fittingly started the Championship party when he took a sharp catch in the gully to dismiss Justin Kemp early on the final day.

The South African had just completed his 50 when he drove loosely at seamer Callum Thorp and Benkenstein's safe hands ensured a century stand for the sixth wicket came to a close.

Thorp had taken the first six wickets and he made it seven with his 50th Championship wicket of the summer when he had Yasar Arafat caught at second slip by Michael Di Venuto. …

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