Lees and Robinson hope for even more misery over coachless Leicestershire

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By Webdesk

Durham 422 for 4 (Robinson 113*, Read 101) vs Leicestershire

Centuries after Ollie Robinson and Alex Lees, Division Two leaders put Durham in a commanding position with 422 for four after the opening day of their LV= Insurance County Championship clash with third-placed Leicestershire.

Robinson, who finished unbeaten at 113, posted the third century of what is shaping up to be an excellent season following his move from Kent last winter, sharing an unbroken 221-run fifth wicket stand with Graham Clark, who is 15 away from a hundred of his own.

Wicket-keeper Robinson, who completed centuries back-to-back after his 102 in the second inning against Glamorgan earlier this month, advanced from fifty to 100 in just 40 balls as a tiring bowling attack suffered at home on a flat delivery.

Indeed, Parkinson and Ackermann wrote what will be a curious footnote to the play of the day by jointly dismissing Lees, at the same time offering their new side proof of their ability while also delivering a significant blow to their current one.

After Durham won the toss and invited the Leicestershire bowlers to explore the Kookaburra experiment, Durham could only have been more pleased with the opening session if Lees and Jones had still been together over lunch.

As it was, they shared Durham’s best opening partnership of the season, before Jones, already with 14 fours and a six to his name and on course for a second century of the campaign, mistimed a ball from Ed Barnes which he tamely headed to short mid wicket, where Ackermann took a good catch.

The pitch had reasonable grass cover, especially full length, but with a short boundary to one side, Lees and Jones flew out of the traps with such aim that spectators, at 66 without a loss after eight overs, could have taken a break to wonder if they were watching T20 instead of a four day game.

To their credit, at lunchtime a home attack without the injured Josh Hull and teenage leg spinner Rehan Ahmed – employed by England – had managed to bring the tally back to a more respectable three runs per over, with Jones the only casualty while Durham lunched. 150 for one. Parkinson’s left arm spin was called up as early as the eighth over, though the pitch would never help him much.

After tying Jones’ wicket just before lunch, Leicestershire broke through for a second time soon after, after sailor Tom Scriven found the edge when Durham skipper Scott Borthwick jabbed to an outside stump. Indeed, the middle session was a better one for the home side, who started the round just a point behind second-placed Sussex.

At tea they had Durham 263 for four, still well placed but 113 for three in the session. Playing in his 50th first-class match for Leicestershire, the Sussex-bound Wright took his 160th wicket in that time and reacted quickly to grab a catch back in his follow-on as David Bedingham’s defensive push showed up.

And Parkinson, who had bowled eight overs unsuccessfully in the morning, sent Lees away towards the end of his second spell. The southpaw Durham finally reached for a ball that spun just enough to find the rim, Ackermann taking the catch low down on a slip.

In energy-consuming conditions, the final session was hard work for the bowlers; Clark hit Ackermann’s off-spin for three straight fours before a fourth took him to a 70-ball half-century, the 24-year-old Robinson completing his of 103 deliveries just before the second new ball became available.

Leicestershire took it, but the change only served to increase the speed at which the ball flew off the bat, seven of 11 boundaries in Robinson’s hundred coming in the space of eight overs with the new Kookaburra, the right-hander that Barnes controlled and cut. for back-to-back boundaries to reach the milestone.

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