Durham continue assault on Sussex for top spot in LV= Championship

Graham Onions
Graham Onions
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NO EASING up.

That was the determined message from attack bowler Graham Onions as Durham continued their assault on top spot of the LV= Championship.

The hosts increased their strangehold on day two of their County Championship clash against Sussex at the Emirates ICG.

But Onions says the home side can’t afford to show the visitors any mercy as they look to claim what would be a vital victory which would put them in first place.

Having skittled out Sussex for 112 yesterday, Durham finished on 212-6 at stumps which, added to their first innings total of 245, gave them an overnight lead of 345.

For Sussex to overcome such a second innings target they would need to set a new record at the Emirates ICG, and also improve considerably on their first-innings showing.

“We have still got a few batters left, so obviously the more runs, the better for us,” said Onions.

“There are rumours that the weather isn’t going to be great on Friday, so we are going to try to push the run rate up and get ourselves further in front.

“It’s important that you don’t look to far ahead. and obviously Friday will come around quickly enough.

“We have to make sure we keep pushing on.”

While he feels Durham will look to add to their overnight tally, he doesn’t think it will be too long before he has ball in hand again.

And he says it is important that he and his fellow bowlers don’t ease up.

“If we work hard we can put their batsmen under pressure, and we have already shown in this match that when we do that, they didn’t cope to well.

“We have to bowl as well as we can as a unit, which I thought we did excellently on Wednesday and try to skittle them out.”

Onions marked his return to action from almost three weeks out due to a broken finger, with excellent figures of 4-50.

And while he felt there was more to come on a personal level, he was quick to praise his fellow bowlers, including Mitch Claydon (3-25) and Usman Arshad (3-16).

“Uzzy bowled extremely well, and it was nice for Mitch to get a couple of wickets as well, he certainly deserved them,” he said.

A half-century by Phil Mustard strengthened Durham’s grip.

When the stroke-playing wicketkeeper went to the crease, 12 wickets had fallen on day two in 49 overs but only one went down in the remaining 45 as Durham closed on 212-6, a lead of 345.

Mustard spent 137 balls making his unbeaten 57 and put on 93 in 36 overs for the sixth wicket with Paul Collingwood as they used their experience to prove that the pitch was no minefield.

The contest in the first half of the day was short of the quality expected between the second and third teams in the division, but both are depleted.

Sussex’s batting looked very fragile after they resumed on 60 for three and lost Luke Wells early on before crashing to 112 all out.

Usman Arshad, playing his second first-class match, must have felt it was easy when he took 3-16 with his brisk medium pace and he later opened up with a straight six off Chris Nash on his way to 16 not out.

Onions took the day’s first two wickets, starting when left-hander Wells drove well wide of off stump and edged to Mustard.

Rory Hamilton-Brown drove the first ball he faced for a straight four then drove at an away swinger and Mustard dived in front of first slip to hold the edge.

Nightwatchman James Anyon resisted well to make 19 before fending a return catch to Claydon and wicketkeeper Ben Brown remained unbeaten on 21.

Harry Finch, the 18-year-old debutant, scored 11 before Arshad had him lbw and he also had Will Beer and Steve Magoffin caught behind for ducks.

Claydon bowled last man Lewis Hatchett to finish with 3-25.

After his 96 in the first innings, Mark Stoneman again started fluently before a ball from Anyon which kept low had him lbw for 21.

The rest of the top five fell to edged catches, before Collingwood and Mustard set out to see off the dangerous Magoffin. They succeeded but continued to grind out the runs as Chris Nash was in his tenth over of off spin and had conceded only 13 when Collingwood tried to work him to leg off the back foot and was lbw for 45.