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Cricket: Gloucestershire remain winless after Durham defeat

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Gloucestershire remain winless after they were comprehensively beaten by league leaders Durham on day four of the LV= County Championship in Bristol, despite a defiant unbeaten century from Australian Marcus Harris.

Durham bowler Ajaz Patel took five wickets in each innings and Matthew Potts continued his push towards a place in England’s Test side with 6 for 95 across the match as Gloucestershire’s final four wickets fell in the morning session of the final day to lose by 125 runs.

Harris was the standout with the bat for Gloucestershire, his gutsy 122 in the second innings, adding to the 52 he’d made on day two, kept the home side in the contest as wickets tumbled around him and the Australian ran out of partners as the side made 300 in pursuit of 426, stand-in captain James Bracey the only other batter to reach 50 in the final innings. This was Harris’ last game before joining his country for the ICC World Test Championship final against India and he did himself no harm in the battle to open against David Warner and Matt Renshaw.

With injuries concerns for James Anderson and Sussex bowler Ollie Robinson playing out this week, and with Jofra Archer’s season confirmed over, Potts has now moved to 29 wickets for the season, further increasing the likelihood of a call-up to the England Test side for the Ireland match at the beginning of June.

Glos were without captain Graeme van Buuren, leading wicket-taker Tom Price and new recruit Marchant de Lange for the fixture against a Durham side with three wins and a draw from their first five games.

Durham had won the toss and batted in the best day one conditions the County Championship has seen so far this year, racking up 393 for 9 before close thanks to a fine 100 from Graham Clark, helped along by Bas de Leede’s 65 and Paul Coughlin’s unbeaten 59 on day two, which helped Durham to post 445 in the first innings.

Zafar Gohar toiled for his four wickets whilst Ajeet Dale and Matt Taylor took two each, but it was the New Zealander Patel who took control of the conditions on day two, taking five for 113 to help bowl Gloucestershire out for 292.

Harris and Ben Charlesworth’s half centuries helped push Gloucestershire to 139 for 2 but Patel and Potts put the North East side into a commanding position. Left-armer Patel got himself on a hat trick late in the innings, Zafar comprehensively stumped before Zaman Akhter was caught the very next ball.

Looking to set a big target, Durham opener Michael Jones put on 119 with Alex Lees who fell for 40 in the 28th over. Jones was in fine touch as he reached 121 in 148 balls, with a quickfire half century from Ollie Robinson helping the Division Two leaders to set Gloucestershire 426 to win in 142 overs, declaring just four wickets down.

Potts was on a hat trick in the fourth over of the fourth innings, removing Chris Dent for 10 before Charlesworth was caught first ball. Miles Hammond survived it but didn’t last much longer than that, the home side reduced to 58 for 4 inside 15 overs. Stand-in captain James Bracey put on 92 with Harris before departing but the Australian opener ensured the game would require a fourth day, guiding his side to stumps on 71 not out.

Durham got off to a fast start in pursuit of the final four wickets on day four, Patel trapping Taylor lbw for 12 in the seventh over of the morning.

Harris remained comfortable throughout the final day’s morning session, picking up singles with ease before coming down the track and hitting Patel back over his head to reach his century in fine fashion. He was partnered by the highly impressive Josh Shaw for 22 overs, backing up an unbeaten 37 in the first innings to claim a first-class high score of 44 but was the eighth to fall after edging Patel to first slip.

Akhter was then clean bowled by Potts for a second nought of the match before Patel took his tenth wicket of the match to wrap up a comfortable victory and claim 23 points.  Attention will now turn to the T20 Blast, with Gloucestershire away at Kent on Wednesday evening.

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