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Youngsters enjoy themselves at Darlington

Second XI Championship: Durham 230-9 (Sayer 5-76) trail Leicestershire 388-7 declared (Wells 148, Robson 57, Steele 43*, Sayer 35*) by 158 runs.

Leicestershire's young guns had a day to remember as Durham still need nine to avoid the follow-on in the Championship game at Darlington CC.

Tom Wells made a career-best 148 while off-spinner Rob Sayer took 5-76 in just his second Second XI match to go with 35*. He shared 72 with keeper Oliver Steele (43*), who also pocketed three catches.

Angus Robson's contribution should also not be underestimated - he claimed 2-16 with his leg spin to go with a patient score of 57 on the first day.

On a sultry North East morning, Harry Bush added 16 to his overnight score of 28 before being caught behind off David Foster for 44 (71b). This ended an 83-run stand with Wells.

Ben Raine made a brisk 13 before being caught by Keaton Jennings off Foster's spin colleague Max Morley, and County lost two further wickets with the score on 287. Wells' marathon knock, from 220 balls, ended as he was pinned in front by Morley. The splendid innings contained 20 fours and two sixes.

Lewis Hill (0) was then caught low down at slip by Ruel Brathwaite off Jamie Harrison. Aadil Ali steered the side to four batting points before being caught by Brathwaite off Usman Arshad for 17 (34b).

Youngsters Steele and Sayer then put together a vital partnership in the context of the game, with Steele striking three consecutive fours off Foster and Sayer repeating the dose off Harrison. This allowed County to declare on 388-7 at the lunch break.

Changes to the overnight bowling figures were: Harrison 15-3-58-1, Arshad 13-2-49-1, Morley 25-4-76-2, Foster 26-2-95-2.

Sayer's innings was an aperitif to what he had on the menu during the afternoon. Durham moved calmly to 42-0 before Sayer's introduction changed the course of the game.

The tweaker struck in his third over as Jennings (16) was snared leg before and Bush then held a skier to dismiss skipper Rammy Singh (9). Raine castled Arshad (10) to leave the hosts on 86-3.

Opener Jack Clark had meanwhile moved to 50 from 87 balls (8x4) before he became Sayer's third victim after nicking to Steele. The keeper took another catch as Stuart Poynter edged Ollie Freckingham behind after adding 30 with Paul Coughlin.

Sayer then came on from the Football Stand (or what's left of it) End, and he trapped Coughlin in front. Robson's probing leg-spin accounted for Ireland (18, caught Bush at second slip) and Foster (11, caught Steele) while Sayer claimed his five-for inbetween those strikes as Wells held a great one-handed catch at leg slip to dismiss Matt Parker (0).

Brathwaite (20*) and Harrison (0*) added a couple of runs to take the score to 230-9. It means Durham need a further nine to avoid the follow-on the final morning of this entertaining game.

Bowling figures returned for Leicestershire were: Nathan Buck 11-2-26-0, Freckingham 7-0-42-1, Atif Sheikh 6-0-15-0, Sayer 26-4-76-5, Raine 5-1-19-1, Bush 7-1-26-0, Robson 8-0-16-2.

Pete Johnson


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