|LV= County Championship Group One, Emirates Riverside, Chester-le-Street (day one):|
|Durham 246: Lees 99, Carse 38; Tongue 5-39|
|Worcestershire (3 pts) trail Durham (1 pt) by 240 runs|
Durham opener Alex Lees just missed out on a century as he steered his side to a respectable first-innings score on day one against Worcestershire.
In a bit of bother on 136-6, Durham made 246 after Lees was aided by Brydon Carse in a 47-run seventh-wicket stand.
Ex-Yorkshire batsman Lees was caught behind off Pears skipper Joe Leach for 99, before Carse ended on 38 not out.
Josh Tongue (5-39) took the new ball to claim the last two wickets before the Pears went off for bad light on 3-0.
When the Worcestershire reply began, there were still 11 overs left in the day – but openers Daryl Mitchell and Jake Libby were made to face just three of them before being offered the light by umpires Steve O’Shaughnessy and Michael Gough.
While fast bowler Tongue took the bowling honours, all 10 Durham wickets fell to the pacemen, Leach, Charlie Morris and Ed Barnard all weighing in too.
Australia Test opener Cameron Bancroft was not available to make his long-awaited return for Durham as planned, having only had one full day of preparation following his delayed arrival by a period of quarantine for Covid-19 protocol.
In the meantime, while Bancroft was held back for next Thursday’s trip to Derby, New Zealand opener Will Young was allowed to stop on for an extra game.
But instead it was Lees who stole the show, passing fifty for the 50th time in his first-class career and for the fourth time in five matches this season.
Just as when he made a century here against Warwickshire a fortnight ago, it was a nicely measured innings until, in attempting to reach three figures, he tried to cut Leach and was caught by Ben Cox.
From 198-8, England paceman Mark Wood then put on 44 with Carse for the ninth wicket to help Durham claim a batting point – but they finished just four runs short of a second as the Pears claimed all three bowling points.