Ben Stokes century makes Lancashire struggle

LV County Championship Division One, Emirates Durham ICG
Close of play, day two: Lancashire 313, Durham 279-3
Durham 5 pts, Lancashire 4 pts
Match scorecard
Live commentary
LV County Championship

Ben Stokes hit a century for Durham as they took control against County Championship leaders Lancashire in the battle of the top two at the Riverside.

Replying to Lancashire's 313, Durham eased to 279-3 from the 71 overs possible on a rain-truncated day.

After looking in potential trouble at 94-3, when Gordon Muchall went for 54, Stokes batted out the rest of the day, putting on 185 with Dale Benkensetein.

Stokes was 100 not out at the close, with Benkenstein still there on 67.

A brief stoppage for bad light seemed to have done Durham no favours as, within two overs of the restart after Muchall had completed his sixth Championship half-century of the season, they slipped from 90-1 to 94-3.

But teenager Stokes' unbroken stand with Benkenstein was the third time this season that the pair had shared a century stand - and it tipped the balance in Durham's favour in the clash of the top two.

On 55, Stokes got an inside edge for four off Luke Procter which just missed his stumps and, on 84, he survived a sharp chance to Paul Horton at slip off Gary Keedy.

But otherwise the 19-year-old New Zealand-born youngster from Cumbria played with great maturity, the power of his back-foot shots through the off side proving immense.

No more so than when he hit the last ball of the day for four to complete his third Championship century of the season.


BBC Radio Lancashire's Liam Bradford:

"It's fair to say that was the toughest day in the field for Lancashire this season. And it's easy to see why Durham are up at the top of the table with Lancashire.

"In 60 sessions of cricket, they've come out on top or even in 57 of them - and two of the three have come in the last two days.

"If Lancashire restrict Durham and take wickets tomorrow, they're in a good position. If the magnificent Ben Stokes continues his rich vein of form, you'd have to say Durham are favourites."

BBC Radio 5 Live's Kevin Howells:

"Ben Stokes will be 20 on Saturday and this hundred was his fifth in first-class cricket.

"James Whittaker was still at the ground and the call he and the England management have to make is when is the right time to unleash him on the international stage?

"When they do the prospect of him and Morgan in the same side is amazing. Could they be the Pietersen and Flintoff of the next generation?"