Steelbacks fall short as Jets start with a win

Steelbacks couldn't find the winning formula against Durham Jets (pictures: Kirsty Edmonds)

Steelbacks couldn't find the winning formula against Durham Jets (pictures: Kirsty Edmonds)

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Richard Levi lashed an impressive 87 but the South African batsman couldn’t save Northants Steelbacks from a Royal London One-Day Cup defeat to Durham Jets.

The Jets secured a 54-run win in the competition opener at the County Ground as Paul Collingwood made a List A-best 132 for the champions.

Collingwood’s 85-ball century led Durham to 313 for eight, before Chris Rushworth continued his fine form in all formats with a burst of three quick wickets to reduce the hosts to 34 for three.

Levi and Ben Duckett led a fightback with a sixth-wicket stand of 125 but the Jets kept their composure to round off victory.

Rushworth struck three times in seven balls at the start of Steelbacks’ chase. He had Josh Cobb caught by John Hastings retreating from midwicket, then Adam Rossington was bowled as he tried to pull a ball too full for the stroke and Alex Wakely was skittled shouldering arms first ball.

Rob Keogh also departed without scoring, with Hastings taking the wicket, before Collingwood followed up his batting display by removing the dangerous David Willey for 34.

After the Levi-Duckett recovery, Hastings returned to have Levi bowled and, in the same over, also cleaned up Steven Crook.

Rushworth removed Northants’ last major hope when Rory Kleinveldt holed out to deep midwicket and Hastings rounded things off with his fourth wicket when he accounted for Muhammad Azharullah.

The bowling effort was ample reward for Collingwood’s fine innings. He came to the crease with Durham 72 for three having been inserted, with one-day skipper Mark Stoneman, Scott Borthwick and Graham Clark all departing cheaply.

Collingwood counter-attacked, advancing down the wicket to lift Azharullah over extra-cover and also took Keogh down the ground for four.

He shared a a healthy stand of 61 for the fourth wicket with Phil Mustard, who was dropped on six by Olly Stone at first slip and cashed in on the chance with a 63-ball half-century.

But having heaved a Crook slower ball over midwicket for his eighth boundary, Mustard was beaten outside off, fell out of his ground and was very smartly stumped by Duckett.

It ended the stand where progress was at above a run-a-ball and left Durham 133 for four.

Gordon Muchall proved a game partner for Collingwood and the pair ensured there was no delay in rebuilding the score. They added 92 for the fifth wicket before Muchall fell to the last ball of the 40th over for 45 trying to lift the final delivery of Willey’s spell over mid-off.

It left Durham 225 for five as the final 10 overs began and Collingwood immediately stepped across his stumps to paddle Crook to the long-leg boundary and slapped Azharullah’s second ball back into the attack just over the head of Crook at mid-off.

Collingwood was closing in on a 10th List A hundred but needed a slice of good fortune to get there. Playing back to the bowler with his partner, Ryan Pringle, backing up a long way, Collingwood decided to run. Azharullah seemingly had the choice of which batsman to get rid of and decided to throw to the striker’s end to get rid of Pringle, saving Collingwood.

Collingwood went on to add another 39 runs in 16 balls as Durham scored 88 in the last 10 overs to set a total that proved too challenging for the hosts.