STRUGGLING Durham finally broke their duck in this season’s LV= County Championship, beating Middlesex by 15 runs in a dramatic climax at Chester-le-Street.
Durham are still bottom of Division One but now only eight points separate the bottom four.
Ben Stokes, who had left the field with a dislocated finger the previous evening, took the last two wickets, while Graham Onions bowled throughout the 85 minutes’ play on Saturday and finished with 3-38 in 20 overs.
Toby Roland-Jones, promoted from 10 to seven as a nightwatchman, kept his cool in the tense situation and looked likely to see Middlesex to their target of 118.
In a match in where ball dominated bat, he showed a better technique than most of the top-order men on either side.
But with only 20 needed two wickets went down on 98. Roland-Jones felt for an away swinger from Onions and edged to wicketkeeper Michael Richardson then a yorker from Stokes clattered into the base of Ollie Rayner’s off stump.
When Stokes also had Tim Murtagh caught behind Middlesex were all out for 102 and Durham were jubilant after their two-wicket defeat in a similar situation at Arundel last week.
The visitors lost a wicket without adding to their overnight 58-5. A brief shower after 10 balls sent the players from the field but John Simpson fell to the second ball on the resumption.
Onions swung it into the left-hander and an inside edge forced Richardson to dive to his right to hold a brilliant catch.
Gareth Berg and Roland-Jones added 13 before Berg drove at a wide ball from Chris Rushworth and edged to first slip, where Paul Collingwood leapt to hold another excellent catch above his head.
It was Rushworth’s fourth wicket of the innings, without bowling particularly well, and Rayner immediately drove him to the cover boundary.
Stokes replaced Rushworth when Middlesex needed 34 and opened with a wide. But it was the young all-rounder who had the last word.
Durham had done well to set Middlesex any sort of target, recovering from 116-7 on Saturday to reach 200 all out, thanks to good knocks by Scott Borthwick (41 not out) and Callum Thorp (36).