Lancashire lost their first County Championship match of the season today after their batting was undone for the second time in two days by Durham's pace battery.
The Red Rose county, who were one point clear of the reigning county champions going into this LV Division One clash at the Riverside, were bowled out for just 135 in their pursuit of 274 to win their third away match of the season.
Steve Harmison led the way with 5-46 from 17 overs to complete a 138-run win for the new table toppers.
Coach Peter Moores said: “The margin seemed like quite a lot, but it never felt like we were that far away. We were a couple of partnerships away from being competitive.”
Lancashire’s day had started very well thanks to Sajid Mahmood returning career best innings figures of 6-30 from 14 overs. Durham, boosted by Ian Blackwell’s 85-ball 74, were bowled out for 145 in their second innings.
Mahmood claimed three of the four home wickets to fall this morning, those of Blackwell, Callum Thorp and Mitch Claydon, while Andrew Flintoff claimed the other to finish with 2-30 from 15.4.
He had Harmison superbly caught, one-handed running backwards from point, by Francois du Plessis.
Of Faf’s catch, Moores said: “It was worth the entrance fee alone. It wasn’t just a good catch, it was a great catch. The distance it went over his head, he just sprinted, dived full length and the ball hit his hand. It was an unbelievable bit of cricket.
“I was disappointed that we didn’t get more in the first innings, but the fight back to bowl them out for 145 gave us a chance.”
Lancashire, though, were soon under pressure in their chase because the wickets kept on tumbling. Paul Horton and Mal Loye got off to a positive start, but Harmison had Horton caught behind by Phil Mustard for eleven in the fourth over to leave the scoreboard at 18-1.
Ashwell Prince was trapped lbw in the tenth by Harmison, and du Plessis followed caught behind to the same bowler to leave the score at 50-3 and then 56-3 at the lunch break.
Harmison had Loye caught by Gordon Muchall in the slips for 30 off 71 balls, Lancashire’s top score of the innings, to leave the score at 63-4 soon after the break.
And Flintoff followed in the next over, the 23rd, as Graham Onions got in on the act. Flintoff drove loosely to mid-off where Mitch Claydon completed a fine catch diving one-handed to his right.
Claydon got a wicket himself in the 30th over when Mark Chilton (22) was caught behind to leave the visitors at 89-6.
Wicketkeeper Luke Sutton and captain Glen Chapple then shared 24 for the seventh wicket in 12 overs before the latter was caught in the slips by Michael Di Venuto for 21.
Mahmood hit two boundaries in 16 off 24 balls before he was caught behind off the bowling of Onions, Newby was bowled round his legs by Blackwell and Gary Keedy was bowled by Onions (3-28 from 14) to signal the end of the match.
“Credit to Durham’s bowlers, they bowled very well. They deserved their win,” continued Moores. “There were two very strong bowling attacks, two sets of international bowlers on display.
“I think that it was quite a difficult pitch because there was quite steep bounce in it. It made it quite hard to play, but that didn’t mean you couldn’t play on it. The significant difference was their first innings score of 244.
“But this is just the third game that we have lost all year, and you have to take that. Durham are a tough side to come and play here.”
Lancashire, who face Hampshire at Liverpool on Wednesday, take just three points from the match.
Graham Hardcastle reporting from Chester-le-Street