Clark sends Durham to victory on a day of firsts

(Photo: Getty Images)

By Simon Sinclair

Graham Clark had been on the periphery of Durham’s side in their quest for success in Division One of the Championship.

The right-hander found his opportunities limited due to the quality of the North-East outfit’s batting unit. However, Durham’s relegation due to financial issues and the subsequent departures of Mark Stoneman and Scott Borthwick have paved a path for Clark to become a permanent part of the team.

Clark, 24, had threatened to break his first-class century duck in knocks of 72 and 83 against Glamorgan and Kent respectively after previously notching his first List A ton in a match-winning knock against Nottinghamshire.

After falling short against the Welsh outfit in Swansea, he was determined to get over the line on home soil. Durham were put under pressure by the dismissals of Stephen Cook, Jack Burnham and Cameron Steel, but Clark played with confidence and controlled aggression in a fine knock alongside the venerable Paul Collingwood.

Nick Selman had patiently notched a ton on day one off 239 deliveries, but the intent displayed by the home side and Clark made Glamorgan’s effort appear cautious. He found the boundary with regularity and brought up his maiden first-class century with a pull off the back foot through midwicket, dispatching a half-tracker from part-time off-spinner Adam Salter to the rope.

Clark said: “It was a huge relief for me. It’s a moment I’ve been dreaming of since I was five. I’ve been coming down since I was 16 and I sort of struggled to make my way through the squad because of its strength.

“This year I’ve had the opportunity and to get my first first-class hundred is a hugely proud moment.”

The burden for Durham’s runs this season has fallen on an exceptionally consistent Collingwood. Although the 41-year-old was again at his best in a partnership of 185 for the fourth wicket, it was Clark (109) who took the initiative to take his team beyond Glamorgan’s total.

After Ireland’s Barry McCarthy (4-65) helped keep Glamorgan in sight second time round with his medium pace, Durham found themselves in a position to secure their first Championship victory of the season.

Chasing 157 for victory in 43 overs, Durham cruised to their target with Cook (89 not out) and Steel (51) atoning for their comparative first innings failures.

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