Mark Stoneman and Ben Stokes added 150 for the third wicket (photo: Madeleine Prangley)
STUMPS. Nottinghamshire Outlaws 222-9 v Durham 223-4 (Stokes 103, Stoneman 86). Durham beat Nottinghamshire by six wickets with 27 balls remaining.
Points - Durham 2, Nottinghamshire 0.
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Ben Stokes thrashed a superb century as Durham ended Nottinghamshire’s unbeaten Royal London Cup record at Emirates ICG.
Watched by England selector Mick Newell, the visitors’ coach, Stokes staked a strong claim for a return to Test duty at the Kia Oval on Friday as his 116-ball hundred carried Durham to their target of 223 with six wickets in hand and 4.3 overs to spare.
After recording a duck against Middlesex on Sunday, Stokes survived a very sharp return chance to Luke Fletcher off the first ball he faced.
But he said: “I middled it and I would have been pretty disappointed if he’d caught it.
“I’ve had a few starts this season but haven’t gone on, so this is my first hundred since the one for England in Perth. I’m driving down to the Oval tonight and if I do get back in the Test team this innings will give me a lot of confidence.”
Stokes, who shared a third-wicket stand of 150 with Mark Stoneman, fell for 103 with only eight needed when he drove Samit Patel to long-on.
Victory in their final group game at home to Surrey on Thursday will give Durham a good chance of qualifying for the quarter-finals after drawing level with Nottinghamshire on seven points, two behind group leaders Kent.
The only blow on an otherwise positive day was an injury to Graham Onions, who suffered a side strain in sending down his third ball in the day’s second over.
Nottinghamshire had started the game well after being put in and Michael Lumb raced to 31 as the visitors reached 45 without loss after eight overs.
But after Lumb skied Stokes to mid-off they lost their way against tight bowling from John Hastings and Scott Borthwick, who took two wickets in reducing Nottinghamshire to 94 for four.
The only man to achieve any fluency was Riki Wessels, who had made 44 off 46 balls when he gloved a catch to wicketkeeper Phil Mustard in trying to pull a leg-side ball from Hastings.
New Zealand left-hander James Franklin played only one shot in anger – a pull for six off Borthwick – in crawling to 28 off 66 balls. Borthwick completed a ten-over stint to take two for 41, as did Hastings in finishing with two for 38.
Durham scored only 23 off the first nine overs of their reply as left-armer Harry Gurney caused Stoneman a few difficulties and Fletcher was also on the mark.
Mustard cut Fletcher straight to backward point and the same bowler had Calum MacLeod lbw for a duck for the second successive match.
Going in at 35 for two in the 13th over, Stokes middled the ball from the outset and was fed some easy leg-side runs by Ajmal Shahzad in completing his half-century off 51 balls.
Stoneman’s 50 came off 76 balls and when Jake Ball was recalled when the batting powerplay was taken Stoneman immediately pulled him for two sixes.
A miscued pull to mid-on off Fletcher brought his downfall for 86, but Stokes went to his 116-ball hundred by pulling Gurney fiercely to mid-wicket for his 15th four.
He holed out in the next over, leaving Paul Collingwood to complete the task with a six over long-on off Patel.