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Durham dismayed by Dutch

By Neville Scott at Southgate

8 July 1998

Middlesex (244-8) beat Durham (240-8) by 2wkts

DURHAM, who find it more difficult to beat first-class opponents since joining the elite seven seasons ago, threw away what seemed like certain victory.

When Jason Pooley became the second Middlesex batsman to be run out, off the last ball of the 44th over, the home side, 129 for seven, needed 112 more at exactly seven per over. Durham sensed a repeat of their last significant NatWest success over the same opponents in 1992.

But an inspired Keith Dutch, whose last two overs of off-spin had earlier been savaged for 28 runs, claimed his revenge by reaching 49 not out from 53 balls. Assisted by Alastair Fraser through the next 7.5 overs, he was then joined by man of the match Richard Johnson when Fraser was yorked.

Johnson carved with equal abandon, making 45 of an unbroken ninth-wicket stand which clattered 76 runs from just 44 balls to take the game with time to spare and leave several Durham players bowed in disbelief.

It was a sad end to a hitherto disciplined fielding and seam-bowling performance with the best, Melvyn Bett, reserving a fine ball to find the outside edge of Justin Langer's bat.

Yet Durham's own innings, when put in, had looked at least 25 short of par on a true if admittedly begrudging and sluggish pitch which made strokeplay difficult.

Their total was constructed around 73 off 145 balls, with only two fours, from Nick Speak. An anonymous, but in the light of later events seemingly crucial innings was ended, just as he had begun to expand, by Fraser who, with brother Angus, checked Durham's acceleration at precisely the opportune time.

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Date-stamped : 09 Jul1998 - 06:15