County's bowlers fight hard against Durham

Leicestershire versus Durham, Specsavers County Championship, Day 1:

SCORECARD | Available through ESPN Cricinfo HERE 

INTERVIEW | Ned Eckersley spoke to BBC Radio Leicester's Richard Rae at stumps, the interview is available HERE

HIGHLIGHTS | The highlights of the first day are available HERE

REPORT | Leicestershire’s bowlers were forced to work hard as openers Tom Latham and Cameron Steel both hit centuries for Durham, who reached 324 for 4 at stumps on the first day at the Fischer County Ground.

Dieter Klein took a brace of wickets for the Foxes while Neil Dexter, Callum Parkinson and Gavin Griffiths were all economical, going for an economy rate between 2.63 and 2.77 runs from 18 to 19 over stints.

It was a fine effort from Leicestershire, who were missing Clint McKay, Mat Pillans, Ben Raine, Zak Chappell and Richard Jones – as well as captain Mark Cosgrove – through injury.

Durham won the toss and elected to bat on a pleasant morning. Leicestershire showed six changes from the side that last played a four-day game at Sussex as Ajmal Shahzad was given his debut alongside Aadil Ali, Klein, Dexter, Parkinson and Griffiths.

The sextet came in for Cosgrove, McKay, Jones, Pillans, Sayer and Arun Harinath, who has returned to Surrey following the end of his loan spell.

New Zealand left-hander Latham, making his first-class Durham debut, opened the batting alongside Steel and the duo saw through the first two sessions of play.

The duo played in contrasting styles to share Durham’s record opening partnership against Leicestershire. Steel took the lion’s share of the bowling in a gritty stay while Latham had a higher strike rate, punishing anything too wide or too straight.

Shahzad opened the bowling alongside Klein and both bowlers were disciplined in the lines they bowled throughout their opening spells. The batsmen played well on a good batting track; they bought up their 50 partnership in the 17th over, Steel contributing 23 and Latham 26.

The Leicestershire bowlers stuck at their task well with Griffiths being the pick of the bowlers conceding just 11 runs from his opening six overs. Durham reached 93-0 at lunch with Latham 47* and Steel 41*.

The opening partnership continued to bring runs after lunch with California-born Steel and New Zealand international Latham looking in good touch on the front foot.

Both openers reached 50 in quick succession with Latham passing his first, from 76 balls including eight boundaries. Steel took 56 more deliveries than his colleague to reach the milestone and hit six boundaries in the process.

The partnership reached 150 after lunch and although Leicestershire were bowling economically, chances were limited.

Latham did offer one opportunity to backward point but Griffiths couldn’t hold on off the bowling of Dexter. Latham wasn’t to be deterred and pulled Colin Ackermann for six to go through to his first hundred for Durham coming from 144 balls including 12x4 and 1x6.

The next ball was a carbon copy as Latham recorded Durham’s first batting point, and the opening pair continued through to tea unbeaten scoring 133 runs in the second session of the day.

From 234 without loss, Durham were then at 253 for 3 as Leicestershire launched a fightback in the final session.

Latham was eventually dismissed for a superb 124 from 183 balls, Dexter taking the wicket as a thin edge was snapped up by Lewis Hill. Latham hit 13 fours and two maximums in his stay at the crease.

The left-hander’s opening partner Steel reached his own century in the 71st over when he pulled Dexter through mid-wicket for four, his second century in the Specsavers County Championship this season. Steel’s patient century came from 242 balls and included 11 fours.

Steel was joined at the wicket by Jack Burnham, who was immediately positive, hooking Griffiths for six. But Parkinson, who extracted some spin from a good line and length all day, got his first wicket when Burnham ran past one and was stumped by Hill.

Left arm quick Klein accounted for Graham Clark (0), Shahzad expertly positioning himself under a high chance that was swirling in the breeze as it made its way to long-leg.

Steel and Collingwood set about building another partnership for Durham and put on 56 for the fourth wicket before Collingwood (25), who produced a series of trademark cuts, shouldered arms to a Klein delivery that struck him bang in front.

Steel, who was put down by Aadil Ali at backward point off Shahzad on 129, went on to add 16 more runs to his total as he and Michael Richardson (7*) steered their side through to stumps.

Bowling figures for Leicestershire: Klein 19-2-79-2, Shahzad 18-1-73-0, Griffiths 19-3-50-0, Dexter 18-3-50-1, Parkinson 19-3-51-1, Ackermann 3-0-18-0

TEAM | Horton, Dearden, Ackermann, Eckersley (capt), Aadil, Dexter, Hill (wk), Parkinson, Shahzad, Klein, Griffiths.