Durham’s Royal London Cup final win is a Breese

Durham CCC players celebrate victory against Warwickshire in the Royal London One Day Cup Final at Lord's Cricket Ground
Durham CCC players celebrate victory against Warwickshire in the Royal London One Day Cup Final at Lord's Cricket Ground

IN the end, it was a Breese.

It was the sort of stuff that fairytale’s are made off.

Cometh the hour, cometh the man.

And while there may have been more than a small slice of luck about Gareth Breese’s winning runs - even the hardest of heart wouldn’t have smiled at his moment of glory, as Durham claimed a three-wicket win over Warwickshire.

Having been released at the end of the current campaign, Breese finished his one-day career at Durham with a flourish.

The West Indian all-rounder has spent 11 seasons at the county, witnessed the highs and lows, the triumphs and the tragedies.

Breese, a loyal servant, has more than played his part in Durham’s rise from County Championship whipping boys to a side that has made its mark on the modern game.

And so, the script was perhaps already written that it would be Breese on his swan song who would guide Durham to the Royal London crown.

In truth, Ben Stokes was the hero of the hour for the men from the Emirates ICG.

His solid 38 not out was the steadying force that brought calm to a side who almost found themselves undone by the beguiling spin of Jeetan Patel.

But it was rightly Breese that had the final say in bringing another piece of silverware home.

And one-day skipper Mark Stoneman was quick to praise the veteran’s performance.

He said: “I’m not going to lie, I got a little bit twitchy when it was six/seven down.

“We were five down and Colly (Paul Collingwood) was going along quite nicely, and we knew a good partnership there would see us all the way home.

“But we lost Colly, and then Muchy (Gordon Muchall) not long after, and it got a little bit tense, but there were a few lads saying the script was written for Breezy to finish it off, so I tried to relax a little bit thinking it was meant to be.

“It was a fairytale sign off for him. He’s been a great guy on and off the field, he’s been outstanding with his contributions for Durham, and for him to go out on a high, hitting the winning runs in a Lords final, you couldn’t script it any better really.

Stoneman won the toss, and decided to put Warwickshire into bat, a decision which reaped rewards.

The men from Chester-le-Street looked in total command as they reduced their opponents to 165 all out.

Durham had dominated from the off with the ball, man of the moment, Chris Rushworth, on the back of his 15 wickets in the County Championship win over Northamptonshire, found the edge of William Porterfield, and he departed for nine - caught behind by Phil Mustard.

England’s Jonathan Trott was soon back in the pavillion trapped lbw by Paul Collingwood for just 2, leaving the Midlanders struggling on 29-2.

Breese then caught Tim Ambrose of Collingwood for 11 to end a promising 34-run partnership with skipper Varun Chopra (64), the only Warks player to take the fight to the Jets, to an end.

Stoneman’s side continued to turn the screw, as Laurie Evans came and went for a duck. Then Stokes bowled Rikki Clarke, but to leave Warks in deep trouble on 68-5.

Chris Woakes (23) shared a 47-run partnership with his captain to steady the ship temporarily, but he was caught from a superb catch from MacLeod to become Breese’s (3-30) first victim of the game.

Chopra’s battling display was brought to an end by Rushworth (2-24), who bowled him round his legs.

Tail-enders Jeetan Patel (14) and Oliver Hannon-Dalby (six) were both caught off Breese, and with Boyd Rankin run out for 1, Warwickshire were all out for 165 - Ateeq Javid unbeaten on 22.

It was a commanding display and one which, Stoneman was quick to praise.

He added: “Winning the toss helped, and it was nice to bowl first and put them under a bit of pressure, but I tghink credit goes to the bowlers for backing that up.

“We saw in the semi-final that bowlers when there’s a little bit of assistance can end up trying too hard, but credit to Rushy (Chris Rushworth) and Coggers (Paul Coughlin) they stuck to the task and kept the pressure on Warwickshire.

It looked like a walk in the park for Durham as they aimed to chase down 165 in 50 overs, but in gloomy conditions both side’s batting line-up seemed ill at ease.

In fact, Durham’s reply got off to a worse start than their opponents - the departures of Phil Mustard bowled by Rankin for 0, and Callum MacLeod shortly afterwards, also for a duck, caught by Chopra off the bowling of Rikki Clarke - leaving them them on 12-2.

Skipper Stoneman and Keaton Jennings looked to have rode out the storm with a 38-run partnership, but when the latter was out lbw to Jeetan Patel for eight, the pressure was back on at 60-3.

Stoneman was next to fall another lbw scalp for Patel, departing having made 52.

Scott Borthwick and Paul Collingwood looked to rebuild, but the spinner became Patel’s third lbw victim having made 12, with Durham on 86-5.

The former England all-rounder was joined by current England ace Ben Stokes and they looked to block out the dangerous Patel.

Inexplicably, Chopra took the spinner out of the attack, but after a costly over from his replacement Rankin, he was forced to reverse the decision.

Collingwood (21) and Stokes looked set to lead their side home, but the four-day skipper was caught by Porterfield from the bowling of Oliver Hannon-Dalby to leave the Jets 117-6.

South Shields-born Gordon Muchall made just nine before he became Patel’s fourth scalp of the day - all to lbw, and Durham found themselves seven wickets down and needing 36 for the win.

Stokes did appear to have one moment of madness, playing a crazy reverse sweep, but it beat the wicketkeeper and slips to race for a four.

After that, the all-rounder blocked out Patel, who took 4-25 from his 10 overs.

And then came the moment of magic.

In truth, Breese had tried to leave the ball but it clipped the edge of his bat and raced away for four to seal victory.

It wasn’t the best shot, the West Indian will have played in his time at the county, but it was probably one of the most precious.

He jumped into a hug with Stokes as the ball crossed the line, then raced to celebrate with his young family in the stands.

Moments like these define sporting memories, Breese deservedly now has another one to share as he looks to begin a new chapter.