Durham’s Riverside headquarters is a very difficult place for an away side to get a good result so to win by an innings and 188 runs up there is a notable achievement. That’s what Warwickshire did two years ago courtesy of a scintillating all-round performance.
Durham won the toss and chose to bowl, a decision which they came to regret after the Bears hit 67 fours on the way to piling up 472 all out. Ian Westwood (40) and William Porterfield (90) laid the foundation which was handsomely built upon by Jonathan Trott (76), Sam Hain (106 not out) and Rikki Clarke (54).
Keith Barker, so often Durham’s nemesis, then got to work with his left-arm swing, taking six for 46 to rattle them out for 171. Following on, Durham fared even worse second time round. From four for two, they were taken to 75 for two by Keaton Jennings and Michael Richardson but then the last eight wickets fell for 38 runs as Jeetan Patel took five for 49, Boyd Rankin three for 16 and Barker two for 20.
In the middle of their glory era Warwickshire arrived in Durham for the first competitive match at the new Riverside ground at Chester-le-Street – and they christened it by keeping their bid to retain the championship title firmly on track with a 111-run victory.
The Riverside audience’s first experience of first-class cricket there was the spectacle of Andy Moles (90) and Nick Knight (89) grinding out an opening stand of 172 in the bitter cold. Warwickshire took the slow route to 424 all out, keen to amass a big score in light of the absence through injury of first-choice pacemen Allan Donald, Gladstone Small and Tim Munton.
The policy paid off as the back-up seamers did the trick. Dougie Brown and Roger Twose took three wickets apiece to earn the Bears a first-innings lead of 111 which they built on in a hurry as Dermot Reeve biffed a quick unbeaten 47 before declaring on 145 for nine.
Brown and Reeve were then among the wickets with three apiece as Durham were bowled out for 145. The main resistance came from 66 from Manoj Prabhakar who was, of course, the unwitting catalyst for the Bears great era – it was his injury, after signing as overseas player for 1994, that created the vacancy filled by a certain Mr B Lara.
When the Bears headed back down the M1 after losing an absolute cracker of a championship match three years ago, Jeetan Patel could reflect that he could not have done much more.
The Kiwi lodged two half-centuries in the match and took five wickets – but Durham still edged home to an 11-run win in a wonderful finish.
Durham batted first on a seamer-friendly surface and made 267 as Keith Barker took four wickets and Rikki Clarke and Patel three apiece. The Bears were then deep in trouble at 116 for seven until Patel hit 53 to underpin a recovery to 209.
The spinner then took a couple of wickets and Boyd Rankin added four as Durham totalled 198 second time round. That included a hard-hit 83 from Ben Stokes which left Warwickshire a difficult target of 257.
When they limped to 146 for seven they looked well out of the game but again Patel dug in, with good support from Ateeq Javid. The two spin-bowling all-rounders took the Bears within 25 of victory but then Javid fell for 44 and Patel for 50 and when Rankin was adjudged lbw to Stokes, Durham had the last say in a brilliant game of county championship cricket.
The sight of Vasbert Drakes standing on the Riverside outfield with several ducks around him on the grass offered photographers a great opportunity but Warwickshire’s pursuit of a hard-earned victory chance was narrowly thwarted on the last day of a gripping encounter.
Batting first, the Bears posted 310 thanks principally to Dominic Ostler’s attractive century, Nick Knight’s tenacious 75 and a breezy 34 from Keith Piper. That assured Michael Powell’s side a first-innings lead of 79 after the home side were bowled out for 231 with one of Durham’s own products, Melvyn Betts, doing most damage with four for 78.
Powell then had to strike the right balance with his declaration and possibly delayed a little too long, setting Durham a victory target of 404 after Mark Wagh’s struck an elegant 112 and Ostler bullied the bowlers again for 86 from 139 balls.
The Bears nagged away to work their way through Durham’s batting with two wickets apiece for Betts, Dougie Brown and Neil Smith but Nicky Peng (70) and Martin Speight (67) held them up long enough for Durham to hang on for a draw at 284 for eight.
Still, that Ducks & Drakes photo was a cracker…