Durham 422 for 4 (Robinson 113*, Lees 101) vs Leicestershire
Robinson, who finished unbeaten on 113, posted the third century of what is turning into an outstanding season following his move from Kent last winter, sharing an unbroken 221-run fifth-wicket stand with Graham Clark, who is 15 away from a hundred of his own.
Wicketkeeper Robinson, who was completing back-to-back centuries after his second-inning 102 against Glamorgan earlier this month, moved from fifty to 100 in just 40 balls as a tiring home bowling attack was made to suffer on a flat pitch.
Indeed, Parkinson and Ackermann wrote what will be a curious footnote to the day’s play by combining to dismiss Lees, simultaneously offering their new side evidence of their ability while striking an important blow for their current one.
Having won the toss and invited Leicestershire’s bowlers to explore the Kookaburra experiment, Durham could only have been more satisfied with the opening session had Lees and Jones been still together at lunch.
As it was, they shared Durham’s best opening partnership of this season, before Jones, already with 14 fours and a six to his name and looking on course for a second century of the campaign, mistimed a ball from Ed Barnes that he flicked tamely to short mid-wicket, where Ackermann took a good catch.
The pitch had a reasonable covering of grass, particularly on a full length, yet with a short boundary to one side Lees and Jones flew out of the traps with such purpose that, at 66 without loss after eight overs, spectators might have had pause to wonder if they were watching T20 rather than a four-day game.
To their credit, by lunch a home attack lacking the injured Josh Hull and teenage leg spinner Rehan Ahmed – on England duty – had managed to drag the rate back to a more respectable three runs per over, with Jones the only casualty as Durham lunched on 150 for one. Parkinson’s left-arm spin was summoned as early as the eighth over, although the pitch would never offer him much help.
Having snared the wicket of Jones just before lunch, Leicestershire made a second breakthrough soon afterwards, seamer Tom Scriven finding the edge as Durham skipper Scott Borthwick prodded at one outside off stump.Indeed, the middle session was a better one for the home side, who began the round just a point behind second-placed Sussex.
At tea, they had Durham 263 for four, still well placed but 113 for three in the session. Sussex-bound Wright, playing in his 50th first-class match for Leicestershire, took his 160th wicket in that time, reacting quickly to grab a return catch in his follow-through as David Bedingham’s defensive push popped up.
And Parkinson, who had bowled eight overs without success in the morning, dismissed Lees towards the end of his second spell. The Durham left-hander ultimately reached for a ball that turned just enough to find the edge, Ackermann taking the catch low down at slip.
In energy-sapping conditions, the final session was hard work for the bowlers; Clark hitting Ackermann’s off-spin for three consecutive fours before a fourth took him to a 70-ball half-century, 24-year-old Robinson completing his from 103 deliveries just before the second new ball became available.
Leicestershire took it, but the change served only to increase the speed at which the ball flew off the bat, seven of the 11 boundaries in Robinson’s hundred coming in the space of eight overs with the new Kookaburra, the right-hander driving and cutting Barnes for back-to-back boundaries to reach the milestone.