Paul Collingwood's century is cause for Durham celebration

Playing their first match at Chester-le-Street since winning the Championship there in September, Paul Collingwood gave Durham cause for celebration

Stu Forster/Getty Images Durham batsman Paul Collingwood in action
Durham batsman Paul Collingwood in action

The last time Durham played at the International Cricket Ground, the day ended with the popping of champagne corks.

There was no such cause for celebration against Durham University yesterday, but 487 runs – 102 to the batsman who needed them most - made yesterday was just what Durham needed after a washed-out first day.

After the loss of two early wickets – an occupational hazard on the first morning here – Scott Borthwick, Michael Richardson and Phil Mustard made fifties before Paul Collingwood scored Chester-le-Street’s maiden century of 2014.

This was Collingwood’s first bat since last season and almost certainly his last before the Riversiders begin their title defence at Northamptonshire, so they needed him to make the most of it. With only two fifties and no four-day centuries last term, Durham carried their captain a little last season but with their batting thinned out by winter departures, they can ill-afford him to go out with a whimper in his final year as a professional cricketer.

Collingwood may not have had any competitive cricket but a winter’s international coaching, most recently with England, has afforded him better net sessions than he could ever have had by staying at home.

Rarely the most eye-catching starter, Collingwood showed no signs of rust. His sixth ball went for four, his eighth was pulled into the member’s seats for six.

It goaded Mustard into consecutive sixes off the next over, twice plonking Freddie van den Bergh wide of long-on as the professionals started to flex their muscles against the students.

Collingwood had an escape on 28, wicketkeeper Oliver Steele at full stretch dropping a half-chance pulled off the face of Collingwood’s bat from the opening ball of a Will Jenkins’ spell. From the next over he came down the pitch and hoiked van den Bergh for another six.

His 50 was the day’s first at more than a run a ball.

The university made a good start – and Matt Milnes an excellent one – after winning the toss, but once Borthwick and Richardson settled the natural order of things was exerted. Jennings was out pushing forward to the day’s third ball and Stoneman went in the sixth over, but not before three excellent shots including a whip off his legs to send Liam Dixon’s no-ball for six. The 20-year-old’s revenge would be to uproot off stump.

Promoted to four this season having spent much of the last at eight, Richardson was a little too eager to get after balls outside off stump. It ought to have cost him on 12, but he was dropped in the slips. He guided the ball there again on 51, but it bounced just short.

Instead he was out following a ball down the legside, helping it to short fine leg.

Durham are worried Borthwick will not be fit to bowl at Northampton – hence Gareth Breese’s inclusion here – but his side strain is certainly not troubling his batting.

Squared up by Tim Alexander, an edge dropped short of second slip on 23, and a Jenkins bouncer (a no-ball) had him on the floor, but he made 50 before playing around one from Milnes as the teenager who played once for Durham’s seconds last year returned 12-6-19-2 before lunch.

Left with the tail for most of last season, Mustard must have enjoyed batting at five, but as a century beckoned van den Bergh took an excellent slip catch to his flashing drive off the spin of Chaitanya Bishnoi.

The final session was something of a non-event against the tiring students, Collingwood the first of three batsmen out driving to midwicket.

Not out one short of a career best, Graham Onions bowled three over yesterday, and will want plenty more today.

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