With Durham having been relegated, courtesy of the ECB, at the end of 2016 this is the first meeting of these two counties in first-class cricket since then. Paul Dyson writes about a second division match in the early part of this century which ended in a close finish.

May 20, 21, 22, 23, 2005 at Chester-le-Street: Yorkshire 254 (RKJ Dawson 86, ML Lewis 4-77) & 306 (A McGrath 133*, CEW Silverwood 80, ML Lewis 5-80); Durham 316 (P Mustard 78, GR Breese 64, TT Bresnan 4-69) & 226-8 (MEK Hussey 61, GJ Kruis 4-96). Match drawn.

Durham were in their fifth season in Division Two and Yorkshire in their third, both counties having started in the top tier when the separation took place for the 2000 season. The home side had started the 2005 season in excellent form, coming into this match with a record which showed played four, won four. Yorkshire’s record was almost as good, the results of its four games being won three, drew one and the two counties occupied the top two places in the division.

Yorkshire won the toss and chose to bat but Durham’s seam bowlers made life difficult and the visitors slipped to 70 for five. Michael Lumb and wicket-keeper Ismail Dawood held the fort for a while but wickets continued to fall on a regular basis and the scoreboard showed 179 for nine when Deon Kruis, a South African Kolpak player in his first season, joined Richard Dawson. Although Yorkshire looked as though they would not reach 200, the pair not only achieved that landmark but took their side to a total which gave them a second batting bonus point. Eventually Dawson was lbw for 86 to Mick Lewis, an Australian who was in his final game as a stand-in overseas player, to give him his fourth wicket. Kruis was left 37 not out after the tenth-wicket stand of 75 – the highest of the innings – had taken Yorkshire to 254. Durham’s top-order batsmen also found life difficult and were 65 for three – two to Tim Bresnan – at close of play.

Pace bowlers continued to hold the upper hand and the scoreboard showed 146 for six before anyone played a major innings. It was Gareth Breese and wicket-keeper Phil Mustard who shared an entertaining stand of 126 which took their side into the lead; both passed the half-century mark, Mustard’s enterprising 78 coming from only 70 balls, him creating his third successive career-best score wiithin the space of a week. He struck two sixes as did Breese who was lbw to Lumb’s rarely-used medium pace for 64. Bresnan captured the wickets of two tail-evenders to give him four wickets in the innings. Yorkshire, in arrears by 62, were nine for one when stumps were drawn for the day.

For the third time in the match the top-order succumbed to a bowling attack making full use of the harder ball and Yorkshire slipped to 162 for eight. The difference this time, however, was that a number three batsman was still at the crease. Anthony McGrath was joined by Chris Silverwood and the latter decided to play like Mustard had done, bludgeoning a career-best 80 from only 66 balls. He dominated the partnership, his runs coming in a stand of 108 for the ninth wicket. McGrath’s ‘superb effort’ (Wisden) saw him finish on 133 not out. He had batted fluently at the start of his innings then supported Silverwood before hitting out in the tenth-wicket stand of 36, the contribution of Kruis beiong just five. The result was that Durham needed 245 to win. Lewis had taken all of the last five wickets to fall to finish with match-figures of nine for 157. The hosts made a good start in their quest for victory, ending the day on 53 for no wicket.

Durham began the day badly by losing two wickets – both to Kruis in his first over – without addition to the score. Gordon Muchall joined skipper Mike Hussey but rain intervened four times and halted their otherwise productive stand. After what became the final delay the hosts required 140 from 32 overs. The third-wicket stand, which had upped its pace, was worth 79 when Hussey became Kruis’s third victim and Muchall – bowled by Ian Harvey – soon followed for 47 as wickets started to fall more regularly. The equation eventually became 38 runs from eight overs with four wickets left. Breese was brilliantly run out with a direct hit from Dawson, Harvey trapped Liam Plunkett lbw and, with two wickets left, Durham settled for the draw to retain top spot in the table.

Neither county could maintain the good form of the early games, each winning only two more matches. However, although Lancashire were the division’s top team by the end of the season both Durham (second) and Yorkshire (third) were also promoted, by coincidence these being the Championship’s three most northerly counties.

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When Chris Silverwood strode to the wicket on the third day of the game against Durham, his side were effectively 100 for eight in the match’s third innings. He provided a game-turning performance which, together with the rain, enabled Yorkshire to draw a fixture which they very much looked like losing. His score of 80 remained a career-best.

It was as a fast-medium bowler, however, for which Silverwood’s playing career was better known. He was at his peak at around the turn of the century: his career-best of seven for 93 came against Kent in 1997 at Headingley; he took 59 first-class wickets in 1999 – his best for Yorkshire; four of his six Tests came on the 1999-2000 tour of South Africa when he took five for 91 at Cape Town, a career-best in that format; and in 2001 he was top of Yorkshire’s bowling averages when the county won the Championship for the first time for 33 years.

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