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ECB 50+ County Championship

Durham retain 50+ County Championship title

Graham Shaw struck a rapid century as Durham retained their ECB 50+ County Championship title with a narrow six-run win over Essex, the team they also faced in the final 12 months ago, at Kibworth Cricket Club in Leicestershire.

Tony Birbeck and Keith Smith, with 49 and 41 respectively, ensured Essex’s decision to bowl backfired as they built a fine opening partnership until they both fell to Tim Smith to leave the score 110 for two in the 32nd over.

Number three Shaw started slowly but increased his scoring rate throughout his innings, hitting eight fours and three sixes in his stunning 67-ball century.

After Shaw departed for 104 to Chris Gladwin, Nick Thompson was stumped off the penultimate delivery for 34 as Durham amassed 251 for four from 45 overs.

Essex replicated Durham’s solid opening partnership, Gladwin and Kevin Grant adding 45 before the former was bowled by Dave McCabe for 24.

Despite the loss of two quick wickets, Grant and Neil Brathwaite joined forces to share a fourth-wicket stand of 77.

Chris Young wrestled control back in the direction of Durham by taking two wickets, including Grant for 82, but Essex were not done there.

With Brathwaite departing for 28, Ian Pont and Smith moved their side closer to their victory target with a 45-run alliance.

However, the run out of Pont left Smith with too much to do alongside the tail.

He was stumped from the final ball of the penultimate over, leaving seven required from the final set of six, but Shaw bowled Gary Nechio to confirm Durham’s victory.