Durham 324 for 4 (Steel 145*, Latham 124) v Leicestershire
Tom Latham made a century on his Championship debut for Durham © Getty Images
New Zealand international Latham became the sixth Durham batsman to score a century for the county on debut against another county as the visitors ended day one of the Division Two match on 324 for 4. The 25-year-old left-hander gave one chance, on 69, steering a short delivery from Neil Dexter high to backward point, where Gavin Griffiths could not hold the ball two-handed above his head.
Having survived, Latham made no further mistakes before bringing up his century off 144 balls with a six pulled over midwicket, courtesy of a long-hop from occasional offspinner Colin Ackermann. By that stage Latham and Steel, who was himself dropped on 50, had already brought up Durham’s highest partnership of the season, as well as setting a new opening partnership record for their county against Leicestershire.
Latham also brought up the Durham 200 with a six, again pulled off Ackermann, but on 124 feathered a catch behind off Neil Dexter, who on his return from injury was comfortably the pick of the Foxes bowlers.
With seamers Clint McKay, Matt Pillans, Ben Raine, Zak Chappell and Richard Jones, as well as top run-scorer Mark Cosgrove, all unavailable, Leicestershire drafted trialist Ajmal Shahzad into the XI. However, the former Yorkshire, Notts and Sussex paceman did little to convince those watching he might be worthy of a long-term playing contract.
Having been put down by Harry Dearden, Steel went on to bring up his century off 242 balls, hitting 10 fours in a hard-working effort, but having looked distinctly ragged during the afternoon, Leicestershire fought back well after tea.
Latham’s dismissal was the first of three wickets to fall in the space of 19 runs: Jack Burnham gave left-arm spinner Callum Parkinson the charge, heaved, missed and was stumped by several yards, and then Graham Clark top-edged a Dieter Klein bouncer to Shahzad at long leg.
Steel and Paul Collingwood then added 56 for the fourth wicket, though Steel was again fortunate to be dropped by Aadil Ali on 129, at backward point off Shahzad. Shortly before the close Collingwood unaccountably padded up to a Klein delivery that would have hit middle stump. Steel, however, remained unbeaten, and at the close of play had left his previous highest first-class score, 128 against Northamptonshire earlier this season, well behind him.
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