LV= Insurance County Championship Division Two - Thursday 18 May 2023

Durham won by 125 runs (3 points)

Venue: Seat Unique Stadium, Bristol

Gloucestershire v Durham | LV= Insurance County Championship


Zafar Gohar took four wickets to keep Gloucestershire in the game on the opening day of the LV=County Championship match against Durham at the Seat Unique Stadium in Bristol.

Encountering batter-friendly weather for the first time this season, the visitors won the toss and ran up 393-9 by the close, thanks in large part to a superb partnership of 124 in 34.4 overs for the sixth wicket between Clark and Bas de Leede. There was also a half century for captain Scott Borthwick, while opener Alex Lees and in-form wicketkeeper-batsman Ollie Robinson contributed 41 and 40 respectively.

A Gloucestershire side deprived through injury of captain Graeme van Buuren, experienced strike bowler Merchant de Lange and leading wicket-taker Tom Price fought hard throughout, chipping away at the top and middle order and making Durham graft for their runs. Slow left armer Zafar Gohar claimed 4-104 and seamer Ajeet Singh-Dale 2-73 as the hosts stuck to their task manfully.

But the visitors at last took control in the final session, Clark raising exactly 100 from 155 balls, with 13 fours and a six, and de Leede, making only his third first-class appearance, registering a Championship-best score of 65 to put their side in credit.

Top of the table after three wins from five games and brimful of confidence, Durham have gained a reputation for playing 'Bazball' style cricket this season. But they were made to think twice by Singh-Dale, who has put on a yard of pace over the winter. 

Bending his back and summoning no little bounce and movement off the seam, he accounted for Michael Jones in the third over, the Scottish batsmen failing to offer a shot and looking back in horror as off and middle stumps were dislodged. It was far from plain sailing for the visitors and Borthwick was handed a life on 20 when edging debutant Zaman Akhter to second slip where the usually reliable Chris Dent allowed opportunity to slip through his fingers. He then survived a confident lbw appeal from the same bowler as Gloucestershire's seamers continued to make life difficult.

Having grafted their way to 50 in the first hour, Durham's second wicket pair moved up through the gears, Lees in particular going after slow left armer Zafar. Still to find the rhythm that begets consistency of line and length, Akhter also proved expensive. 

Under pressure, Gloucestershire stood their ground and were rewarded when Lees, having crafted 41 from 64 balls, drove Shaw to backward point where Zafar took a startling catch. Having shared in a stand of 71 for the second wicket, Borthwick then added a further 63 in partnership with David Bedingham either side of lunch as Durham flourished. Borthwick went to 50 from 73 balls via his ninth four, punched through mid-off at the expense of Dale.

Once again, Gloucestershire stuck to their task and Borthwick, having assiduously avoided being tempted by the short ball, nevertheless fell into a carefully-laid trap, pulling Dale and succumbing to a brilliant catch by Miles Hammond at backward point for 53. When Bedingham clipped Matt Taylor to mid-wicket in the next over, Durham were 149-4, their position of strength in serious danger of being eroded.

New batters Robinson and Clark attempted to wrest back control in a diligent alliance of 65 in 16 overs for the fifth wicket, only for the former to bottom edge a catch behind off Zafar and depart for 40 when a fourth half century of the season appeared his for the taking.

Reduced to 214-5 and still just about being held in check, Durham were thereafter indebted to Clark and de Leede, who worked hard to wrestle back the initiative and at last confirm northern supremacy during the final session.

Playing for only the second time this season, de Leede matched Clark blow for blow in a resilient innings that spanned 117 balls and included 11 fours. The Dutchman was looking to become more expansive when he fell to the new ball in the last hour, stumped by stand-in Gloucestershire captain James Bracey off the bowling of Zafar.

Gloucestershire's overseas recovered well after his first four overs went for 33 in the morning session, pinning Ben Raine lbw for two to lead a spirited fightback in the early-evening sunshine. But the indomitable Clark still had the final say, working Zafar to square leg and punching the air before even he had completed the single which signaled his first century since 2017.

He was out next ball, trapped lbw by Zafar, and there was still time for Akhter to claim his first Championship wicket, Hammond taking a stunning diving catch at point to remove Matthew Potts without scoring.


Durham spinner Ajaz Patel took five Gloucestershire wickets on day two of an increasingly one-sided LV=County Championship encounter at Bristol's Seat Unique Stadium.

The slow left armer claimed a season's best haul of 5-93 and England paceman Matthew Potts weighed in with 2-35 as Gloucestershire were reduced to 255-9 in reply to Durham's imposing first-innings 445.

Marcus Harris and Ben Charlesworth offered defiance aplenty in contributing battling half centuries as the hosts advanced to 139-2, only to then suffer an alarming collapse in the final session, losing seven wickets for 88 runs.

Wheeling away from the Bristol Pavilion End, Patel ripped through the tail, claiming three of his five victims in an early-evening burst which left him on a hat-trick. Gloucestershire managed to register a batting bonus point before the close, but still trail the Second Division leaders by 190 runs and require a further 41 runs to avoid the possibility of being made to follow-on.

His prospects of featuring for England in the upcoming Ashes series improved by injuries to Jofra Archer and Jimmy Anderson, Durham spearhead Potts was out to impress and add to the 23 victims accrued in four previous matches this season. He began well enough, removing Chris Dent lbw with a ball that came back into the left-hander and was destined to hit the top of middle and leg with the score on 10.

Bowling with more pace and accuracy than any of Gloucestershire's bowlers had managed on the first day, Potts created no end of problems for Gloucestershire's second-wicket pair, going past the bat with sufficient regularity that, on another day, he might easily have ended up with four or five wickets.

His battle with Australian opener Harris served as a potential precursor to contests still to come later in the summer, while Charlesworth lived a charmed existence at times as he played and missed in the face of 11 overs of sustained hostility spread across two spells either side of lunch.

For his part, Harris had good reason to wish to sign off with an innings of substance on his last appearance before joining up with the Australian squad ahead of the ICC World Test Championship final against India at The Oval, beginning on June 7. Yet he could easily have gone in the very first over without scoring, slapping a shortish delivery from Ben Raine straight to point where Bas De Leede was unable to hold on.

Harris made good his escape to contribute a carefully-crafted half century, his first since early April, affording Gloucestershire's reply the reassurance of solid foundations. His ninth boundary, steered behind point, served to bring up his 50 and raise the hundred partnership for the second wicket.

Unfortunately for his Ashes ambitions, Harris was out next ball for 52, caught behind off a quicker delivery from Patel. The product of sound technique, his innings spanned 120 balls. Whether it will prove sufficient to dislodge either David Warner or Matt Renshaw from the Australian top-order when the serious business gets underway next month, remains to be seen.

Given that batting became a markedly more hazardous business after an early-afternoon downpour caused 13 overs to be lost, Charlesworth's diligence and powers of concentration were to be admired as he single-handedly attempted to haul his side to respectability.

Having survived the fire and brimstone generated by Potts, the left-hander demonstrated sound judgment in dealing with Patel, who now represented the chief threat to Gloucestershire ambition. Certainly, his temperament under duress suggests he is the man most likely to replace Harris at the top of the order when Championship action resumes next month.

Miles Hammond and Jack Taylor came and went disappointingly quickly from a Gloucestershire perspective, the former losing his off stump to Ben Raine without offering a shot and departing for 21 and the latter bowled between bat and pad by Patel after striking 2 fours and a six in a brief innings of 16. 

Relegated one place down the order owing to the joint burdens of captaincy and wicketkeeping, James Bracey departed with undue haste, making 14 before playing across the line to a Potts in-swinger and offering a catch to second slip as the hosts subsided from 139-2 to 189-5 either side of the tea interval.

Unperturbed by events at the other end, Charlesworth continued to go methodically about his business, raising his second 50 in as many innings from 134 balls. Although he was prepared to flirt with danger outside off stump, Zafar Gohar was at least able to provide more dependable support in a seventh wicket alliance that, given the length of the tail, appeared pivotal to Gloucestershire's prospects.

But with the end of the day in sight, fatigue at last played a hand in proceedings, Charlesworth aiming a tired waft at a short-pitched ball from Bas de Leede and offering a straightforward catch to second slip as the hosts lurched to 216-6.

An already parlous situation then became much worse, Matt Taylor driving loosely to mid-on without scoring, Zafar reaching forward and being stumped by Ollie Robinson for 18 and Zaman Akhter nicking to second slip.

for a duck as Patel claimed three wickets in five deliveries to cut through the lower order like a knife through butter and leave the home side teetering on 227-9.

Only tail-end defiance from Josh Shaw and Ajeet Singh Dale enabled Gloucestershire to salvage a batting bonus point.

Durham had earlier concluded their first innings with a flourish. Resuming on 393-9, the last pair of Patel and Coughlin added a further 52 in 8.2 overs, serving as an irritant to opponents who were in a hurry to commence their reply. Durham's first task was to accrue a fourth batting bonus point and Coughlin obliged, pulling Zafar over mid-wicket for a maximum to move Durham beyond 400. Looking extremely comfortable in benign conditions, Coughlin quickly moved to his 50, a landmark which occupied 43 balls and included 7 fours and a brace of sixes.

Having not looked like taking a wicket in the previous 35 minutes, Gloucestershire no doubt breathed a sigh of relief when Matt Taylor found Patel's outside edge and Bracey wrapped up proceedings with the visitors still five runs short of a fifth bonus point. Coughlin finished unbeaten on 59 from 52 balls, while Patel, who made 22, played his part in a valuable last-wicket stand of 71.


Matthew Potts did his prospects of featuring in the upcoming Ashes series no harm at all as Durham closed in on victory vs Gloucestershire on day three of the LV=County Championship match at Bristol's Seat Unique Stadium.

On a day when Sussex paceman Ollie Robinson joined Joffra Archer and Jimmy Anderson on the treatment table, Potts claimed 2-21 in an impressive five-over burst with the new ball to issue a timely reminder to the England selectors.

Building on a first-innings lead of 153, Durham posted 272-4 declared second time around thanks to a fine innings of 121 not out by Michael Jones and a quickfire half century from Ollie Robinson, setting Gloucestershire a notional victory target of 426 in 142 overs on a deteriorating pitch.

Potts then went to work, removing left-handers Chris Dent and Ben Charlesworth with successive deliveries in the third over to commence a slide which saw Gloucestershire subside to 58-4. Although Marcus Harris proved cussed in registering 71 not out to see the home side through to 181-6 at the close, they still trail by 244 and, with the weather set fair for the final day, the overwhelming likelihood is that Durham will complete a fourth victory in six outings to cement their position at the top of the Second Division.

Given that Archer has already been ruled out of contention for the remainder of the summer and Anderson continues to be troubled by a groin strain, news that Robinson had sustained an ankle injury and been unable to take the field for Sussex against Glamorgan at Hove after lunch, served to further propel the 24-year-old Sunderland-born paceman into the international reckoning.

With England's first-choice seamers dropping like flies, opportunity could yet come knocking for Potts, who has now claimed 28 wickets in five red ball outings since early April. Certainly, he was too much for Dent and Charlesworth, the former caught behind and the other wafting outside off stump and nicking to third slip as Gloucestershire made the worst possible start to their second innings.

Miles Hammond survived the hat-trick ball, but did not last much longer, nicking Ben Raine to first slip, while Jack Taylor was lured onto the front foot by Ajaz Patel and stumped for a first-ball duck as the home side slipped to 58-4.

Eager to press his claims for inclusion in the Australia team to face India in the ICC World Test Championship final at The Oval next month, Harris held up Durham's victory charge with his second half century of the match, going to that landmark via 89 balls. He was at last afforded the support his efforts deserved when joined by Bracey, who contributed 50 from 78 balls in a fifth wicket partnership of 92. But Gloucestershire's stand-in captain blotted his copybook when nicking a delivery from Scott Borthwick to leg slip, while Zafar Gohar danced down the track to Patel and was comprehensively stumped for 11 to leave Durham on the cusp of an inside-the-distance triumph.

Potts had earlier wrapped up Gloucestershire's first innings on 292, clean bowling Ajeet Singh Dale for 15 to finish with 3-43. Josh Shaw remained unbeaten on 37, smashing 3 sixes and a brace of fours to dominate a last-wicket stand of 65.

With a declaration figure already in mind, Durham were understandably eager to score quickly and Jones and Alex Lees obliged in a progressive opening stand of 119 in 27.1 overs. The pick of the Gloucestershire bowlers, Singh Dale troubled both openers in a venomous new-ball spell before retiring to the pavilion with an injured knee. Jones in particular cashed in, twice carting Zafar over mid-wicket for six and meting out the same treatment to Matt Taylor as he went to 50 from 73 balls. 

Depleted Gloucestershire continued to fight hard and debutant Zaman Akhter generated a head of steam from the Ashley Down Road End to bowl Lees for 40, while Zafar pinned Borthwick lbw for two to briefly slow northern progress. David Bedingham scored 29 from 26 balls in a rapid stand of 56 for the third wicket before coming forward to Shaw and guiding a leading edge to cover with the score on 178.

Unperturbed by goings-on at the other end, Jones simply kept going, raising three figures for the first time this season with his ninth four, a cut to the square leg boundary at the expense of Zafar, who was struggling to exert any control. Aided and abetted by 5 sixes, Jones' second 50 occupied just 54 balls.

Robinson scored at an even brisker pace, rushing to 50 via 25 balls with all but four of those runs coming by way of boundaries as dot balls became a rarity.

By the time Robinson overbalanced and was stumped for 67 off the bowling of Zafar, Durham made the decision to declare. Robinson's whirlwind innings comprised 36 balls and included 9 fours and 3 sixes, while Jones finished unbeaten on 121 from 148 deliveries, with 11 fours and 5 sixes. Their fourth wicket alliance yielded 94 runs in just 10.1 overs.


Ajaz Patel finished with match figures of 10 for 209 as Durham cemented their position as Second Division leaders with a 125-run LV= Insurance County Championship win over Gloucestershire at Bristol.

But the visitors were made to wait to complete a comprehensive victory by Marcus Harris, who recorded his 26th first class century, and Josh Shaw, whose contribution of 44 to a stubborn eighth-wicket stand of 88 was a career-best first class score.

Harris carried his bat to finish unbeaten on 122, off 195 balls, with 15 fours. But it was never going to be enough as New Zealand Test left-arm spinner Patel followed up his five for 113 in the first innings with five for 96.

Gloucestershire were bowled out for 300 before lunch on the final day and remain in search of a first win. They took four points from the match, while Durham’s 23 from a fourth victory in six games strengthened their lead at the top of the table.

At 181 for six at the start of play, the hosts required an unlikely 245 to win. But Harris was unbeaten on 71 and his team could take some encouragement from clear blue skies.

Matt Taylor helped Harris add 21 to the total, but with his score on 12, he missed a defensive prod and was pinned lbw by Patel, who bowled the first 11 overs of the day from the Pavilion End.

Harris looked to survive a difficult chance off Patel on 90 when he edged a ball at ankle height just out of the reach of slip Matthew Potts.

It was all the good fortune the left-handed opener needed to reach three figures off 163 balls, advancing down the pitch to hit Patel over mid-on for the 13th boundary.

Shaw provided solid support and gradually grew in confidence, smacking Patel to the long-on boundary and then pulling Ben Raine for another four.

A single to square-leg off Bas de Leede took Shaw past his previous best first class score of 42, but he had added only a single when snapped up by Potts at slip off a Patel delivery that turned from outside leg stump.

Shaw had hit 6 fours and a pulled six off Scott Borthwick, but his departure signalled the end of any slim Gloucestershire hopes.

Zaman Akhter lasted only four deliveries before being bowled by Potts, who finished with three for 43 from 19.2 overs.

Ajeet Dale hit a couple of defiant boundaries before being last man out, caught at cover to give Patel his fifth wicket of the innings and tenth of the match.

Harris walked off undefeated, but the Australian’s valiant efforts only served to highlight the batting frailties of team-mates in an injury-hit side.

Durham could take plenty of positives from another impressive display, which will take them into the switch to T20 cricket in great heart.