Game evenly-poised after Day Two

Thursday 20th July 2023
Photography by: David Griffin, written by ECB Reporters Network

Brooke Guest scored 197 and Sam Conners took three wickets, but Durham fought back strongly on Day Two of the LV= County Championship game at The Incora County Ground. 

Alex Lees won the race to become the first player to score 1,000 championship runs this season. The England batter scored the 84 needed to reach the milestone and went on to make 171 from 210 balls and share a record breaking stand with David Bedingham who was out for 138.

The pair added 305 from 333 balls for the third wicket, a new Durham record, and at stumps on day two the visitors were 364 for 4 ,79 behind Derbyshire’s first innings 443.

Derbyshire wicketkeeper Brooke Guest was last out for 197 to Scott Borthwick who took 4 for 25, and although Sam Conners reduced the Division Two leaders to 8 for 2, the rest of the day belonged to Lees and Bedingham.

Durham had earlier been on the receiving end on a flat pitch as Guest and the tail took advantage of some poor bowling.

Derbyshire added 126 runs in 25 overs with Guest and Conners doing most of the damage by plundering 71 from 48 balls.

Guest reached his 150 by turning Ben Raine behind square for his 23rd four before the Durham seamer got one to straighten and knock out Alex Thomson’s off stump.

Zak Chappell gloved a Brydon Carse lifter to short leg but Durham lost control once Guest and Conners engaged the turbo.

Conners pulled Carse for six and after Derbyshire picked up five penalty runs when the ball struck the helmet behind wicketkeeper Ollie Robinson, he drove Matthew Parkinson over the long off boundary.

Durham were looking increasingly ragged until Conners charged Scott Borthwick and was stumped for 33 off only 25 balls.

Guest had a double century in his sights but when he took on Borthwick, he failed to clear Raine at long on.

It had been an outstanding innings and one that looked even better when Conners struck twice in the fourth over after lunch.

Michael Jones was bowled as he shaped to play through midwicket and Borthwick was caught on the crease but Lees and Bedingham responded with a thrilling counter-attack.

Bedingham lit the fuse by pulling Chappell for six before Lees straight drove Thomson for consecutive sixes.

Lees drove Anuj Dal back over his head for another six and his only anxious moment came on 79 when he almost edged Chappell behind.

But he drove the next ball for four and then turned Chappell for a single to reach that 1,000 milestone which was quickly followed by his fourth century in five innings when he clipped Dal to the fine leg boundary.

Lees had faced only 127 balls but Bedingham reached his hundred off only 113 when he edged Luis Reece to third man for his 15th four.

The runs kept coming and the pair passed Durham’s previous highest third wicket stand of 243 which they had set at Leicester at the end of June.

Lees went to his 150 with successive fours off Nic Potts but the stand was finally broken when Bedingham clipped Dal to substitute fielder Mitch Wagstaff at short midwicket.

Durham sent in Migael Pretorious to take advantage of a tiring attack but Conners returned to remove Lees who was caught behind driving at a wide ball two overs before the close.

Derbyshire fast bowler Sam Conners said: “Brooke (Guest) deserved 200, he played unbelievably over the last two days, he really showed his class. He played with determination, showed great character and it was a great knock all round.

“We tried to get wickets with the new ball and got two and that’s when you go we should back up a little bit and bowl dots and maidens but we didn’t quite do that. Obviously Lees and Bedingham both played really nicely but we’re not out of it yet, if we can grab a couple of wickets in the morning you just never know.

“It’s a good batting track, it is slow and it’s hard for the bowlers but we just need to put six out of six each over in the right area and hopefully one of them does something.

“We’ll wait and see how they play in the morning, they may go for it and try and get a little bit of a lead but that’s still a fair way down the line so we have to concentrate and come back and take some more wickets and see where we are.

“The pitch has definitely changed over the last few years, we’ve tried making them into good cricket wickets where if you bowl right you get rewarded and if you don’t the batters score. Maybe we have to put a bit more live grass on to try and help the bowlers out a bit because it’s hard for a bowler but it is what it is at the moment.”

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