Newspaper article The Journal (Newcastle, England)

Smith: I Want Us to Stay Unbeaten; Durham Chase Landmark Title

Newspaper article The Journal (Newcastle, England)

Smith: I Want Us to Stay Unbeaten; Durham Chase Landmark Title

Article excerpt

Byline: Stuart Rayner

D URHAM can this week become the first team since Surrey in 2000 to retain cricket's County Championship - but captain Will Smith insists that going a whole four-day season unbeaten is their main ambition.

So dominant are the Riversiders this term it is a matter of when rather than if they win the title. Should results go their way, it could be in the next few days, and on their own ground.

Durham entertain second-placed Nottinghamshire in a game which starts tomorrow 27 points clear at the top of the table. The match is Nottinghamshire's penultimate of the campaign, as it will be for third-placed Somerset, who host Lancashire.

Durham have a game in hand on both.

They will be champions by Saturday unless Nottinghamshire take at least five more points from the match than they do, or Somerset claim at least 11 more at Taunton. Fourteen points are available for a win, four for a draw, with bonus points for first-innings performances. Smith, though, does not want to concern himself with such matters.

"It's just another game to us," he said.

"We have already had 13 games in the County Championship and we have approached each one in exactly the same fashion. We turn up on day one aiming to establish a strong position and then try to really force home that advantage in a dominant way.

"It will be just the same against Notts. They are just another side. They are our nearest rivals but we get any team up here and feel we can beat them.

"We want to make sure it is an even better season by remaining unbeaten and winning the last three games. Remaining unbeaten is a big thing. Even if we'd won the title we would still be trying as hard to win that last game and if we didn't win, we would be doing our best to make sure we didn't lose it.

"The 11 will all be determined to make sure we have as good a record as possible. …

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