Sussex v Durham: Day three lunch

WILL Smith made exactly 100 as Durham built what ought to be a match-winning lead in today's County Championship match against Sussex at Hove.

WILL Smith made exactly 100 as Durham built what ought to be a match-winning lead in today's County Championship match against Sussex at Hove.

At an early lunch to allow for the officially naming of the ground's new pavilion, the Riversiders were 354 runs ahead, with eight wickets (effectively seven) in hand.

Captain Phil Mustard's biggest headache today will be timing his declaration correctly. As well as making sure they win the game, Durham would also love to give themselves a bit of extra time to prepare for Sunday's CB40 semi-final in Taunton. The sooner they can make the long bus journey west, the better.

But with Matt Prior, Murray Goodwin, Ed Joyce and Michael Yardy all in a batting line-up which admittedly so far in this game has been more powerful on paper than on grass, Durham will not want to leave Sussex too gettable a victory target.

Mustard's batsmen have helped him out by building a commanding lead, though there has been no attempt from them to get into one-day mode early. Smith lead the way with his third ton of the Championship season.

Mark Stoneman was the first batsman to go in the morning, just failing to add a half-century to his first-innings 128. Having started the day with a straight driven four from the first ball of the morning bowled by Monty Panesar - who slowed his scoring considerably on day one - he was out sweeping to the England man's fellow spinner, Chris Nash. Stoneman had made 45, and he and Smith added 120 together.

Michael Di Venuto did not return to the crease at the fall of the wicket. The Tasmanian retired hurt on two not out yesterday after being struck on the arm by Wayne Parnell. The Riversiders were assessing the injury again this morning, but in such a strong position there is no need to risk him. Whether Di Venuto will be fit for Sunday's match at Somerset is a far more important issue at present.

Smith showed all the qualities he had exhibited the previous day in reaching his 11th century in First-Class cricket. Two lovely backfoot cuts for four off Amjad Kahn got him into rhythm first thing.

When James Anyon replaced the Danish-born England international at the Cromwell Road End, Smith repeated the hook which had brought him six on day two. This time it bounced in front of the short boundary, rather than clearing the pavilion.

Paul Collingwood showed how it was done by twice pulling sixes there off the same bowler.

Smith brought up three figures with a quick single from the 192nd delivery he had faced. As well as his maximum, there were also 15 fours in the innings. He was soon out, though, in a mirror image of Stoneman's dismissal.

Panesar was by now operating from the Cromwell Road End when right-hander Smith failed to make contact with his sweep. Durham had made 194 at the time.

Collingwood had progressed to 35 by the interval, with Dale Benkenstein one not out in a total of 200-2.

For a full report of the day's play, read The Journal on Saturday.


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