Vitality County Championship Division One – Day One – Warwickshire v Durham

Vitality County Championship Division One – Day One – Warwickshire v Durham

Alex Davies

At the end of a day when the bat dominated the ball to an almost ridiculous extent, Warwickshire closed on 490-1 against Durham.  A stand of 343 between Alex Davies and Rob Yates broke the record for opening partnerships between the two counties and the Durham misery didn’t end there because Alex Davies and Will Rhodes shared an unbroken stand of 147. To be fair, much of the Durham bowling was as rusty as an old pram pulled from the River Rea behind the Hollies Stand, but the Warwickshire batters took full advantage of the frequent lapses in line and length on what proved to be an easy-paced, true pitch.

At the start of the day, like an alcoholic who has finally entered rehab, the main priority for many spectators was staying dry.  For once, the weather was kind.  There were even sightings of something that resembled the sun. Having been put in to bat, Warwickshire dominated the first session of play, Alex Davies, the new Bears captain, particularly aggressive with shots all around the wicket. In keeping with their aim of being the most environmentally friendly county, Warwickshire were maybe hoping to make a saving in fuel consumption by having the pitch so close to the groundsman’s enclosure that there was hardly a need to get the roller motor going, but plenty of boundaries came on the opposite side too, where the ball crossing the boundary rope denied the batter the opportunity to run five.

Although Scott Boland and Matthew Potts beat the bat a few times early on, there were also plenty of four balls.  The batters profited from the loose deliveries and were soon well on top.  The 100 partnership came up in 18.3 overs, with Davies on 63 and Yates on 38.  At lunch, the partnership was 146, with Davies on 88 and Yates on 55.  How Durham must have longed for Ben Stokes, who was practising his bowling during the lunch interval, to join their attack. With a cover drive to the long boundary, Davies reached his 100 off only 102 balls, with 16 fours and one six, scored out of a total of 185.  It was his third hundred for the Bears and his seventh overall.

Ben Raine was the only Durham bowler who was able to contain the batters, but even he could not prevent the Warwickshire pair going beyond 206, which was previously the highest ever opening partnership for the Bears against Durham. In the latter parts of the stand, Yates dominated and overtook his partner.  He reached his 100 with a six and although he was dropped by Matthew Potts, running back from mid-on, this was a lone lapse. The stand had reached 343, with Yates on 191 when he skied part-time bowler Colin Ackerman and was caught by Ben Raine. Yates had hit 25 fours and five sixes, with cuts and back foot drives combined with some lofty straight hits. Thus ended the second highest opening stand in Warwickshire’s history. Supporters were almost as delighted at this as they were to see the new scoreboard at the pavilion end which has the significant advantage over its predecessor of being legible.

The third hundred of the day came from Callum Parkinson who by the end of the day had toiled through 25  overs of left arm spin to concede 128 runs, his main purpose seemingly to keep the Durham over rate within reach of par.  The bowling dishonours of the day, however, probably went to Brydon Carse whose 13 overs cost 95 runs. Matthew Potts and Ben Raine bowled better with the second new ball and kept the scoring under check. It just meant that Alex Davies crept rather than raced to his first ever double century.  Even so, it took him a mere 249 balls to reach the milestone, with 23 fours and two sixes.  In further milestones, the 450 came up and Will Rhodes reached 50 off 88 balls with seven fours.

By the close, Warwickshire were just shy of 500 runs and had still only lost one wicket.  There surely must be more punishment for the Durham bowlers tomorrow.


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