Leicestershire 335 for 4 (Ackermann 104*, Handscomb 55, Budinger 51) trail Durham 517 for 6 dec (Robinson 167*, Lees 101, Clark 92) by 182 runs
Ackermann, who will move to the North East at the end of the season along with Leicestershire team-mate Callum Parkinson, is 104 not out as his current side ended the day 335 for four. The 32-year-old all-rounder shared a fifth-wicket partnership of 117 with Australian international Peter Handscomb, who made 55 after opener Sol Budinger’s 51 earlier.
Matt Parkinson, the leg-spinning twin of Callum who is currently with Durham on loan from Lancashire but will play for Kent in 2024, took two for 91 on a pitch likely to favour the spinners increasingly over the last two days, and with a lead of 182 the Division Two leaders still hold the upper hand.
Durham declared approximately half an hour before lunch, having added 95 to their overnight score, Robinson returning to the visitors’ dressing room to pats on the back from everyone with the possible exception of Graham Clark.
Clark had looked nailed on for a second hundred in three innings only for his partner to run him out on 92, chancing a quick single off a dab into the off side only for Ackermann to swoop at point and score a direct hit with his throw as Clark tried in vain to get home. With the fifth batting point effectively in the bag, it was hardly a necessary gamble.
The partnership had added 227 runs, and while Robinson initially threw back his head in disbelief at what he had done, he regained his composure to equal his previous best of 143 by driving Matt Salisbury to the cover boundary before he and Liam Trevaskis upped the tempo to blast 69 in nine overs before the wicket of Trevaskis, caught on the boundary as he swept Callum Parkinson, prompted the declaration.
Parkinson’s two wickets cost 107 runs. Among the suffering seamers, Ed Barnes was the tidiest, going for what in the circumstances was a paltry three an over in his first Championship match since breaking a foot in the last week of April.
The Durham seam attack, short on experience due to injuries and international call-ups, included the debutant Raymond Toole, a South African-born left-arm seamer who plays for Central Districts in New Zealand, signed in part for his experience bowling with the Kookaburra, although he has more recently seen action in the North East Premier League with Shotley Bridge.
Yet he struggled to make an impression on this placid pitch, as Leicestershire openers Budinger and Rishi Patel progressed without alarm to lunch and beyond. Moments after Budinger completed his second fifty of the season, however, they were out to consecutive balls.
Ben Raine, once of this parish, snared Patel, posting a short square leg to whom the batter obligingly popped up a simple catch off a miscued pull, after which Budinger, rocking back to cut the leg-spinning Parkinson, feathered the ball into the gloves of Robinson, who held it at the second attempt.
It was still essentially a good pitch but there were signs now and again of deterioration. Parkinson picked up a second wicket when he drew Lewis Hill into reaching for one outside off stump that turned enough to find the edge, slip taking the catch.
At 124 for three, Leicestershire’s initial target of reaching 368 to avoid the follow-on looked some way off. By tea, it was a little closer, at 203 for three after Ackermann had passed fifty for the fifth time this season.
Peter Handscomb, who had the good fortune to benefit from one of Parkinson’s not infrequent no-balls when he edged to slip on three, reached the same milestone seven overs into the final session only to run out of luck moments later when his attempt to paddle-sweep Trevaskis’s left-arm spin ballooned gently off the top edge to give Robinson a simple catch behind the stumps.
Ackermann’s 22nd career first-class hundred came inside the final three overs of play when he pulled Toole for his eighth boundary. Unfazed by a blow on the helmet from a short ball by Raine shortly afterwards, he and Wiaan Mulder (49) have so far added 94. Leicestershire still require another 33 to avoid being asked to follow on.