Gloucestershire 315 for 7 (Higgins 105, Roderick 67) v Durham
A maiden first-class century from Ryan Higgins put Gloucestershire in a decent position on the opening day of the Specasavers County Championship match with Durham at Cheltenham.
The 23-year-old former Middlesex all-rounder was out in the last over of the day for 105 as his side ran up 315 for seven after winning the toss. Miles Hammond (51) and Gareth Roderick (67) were the other main contributors.
Chris Rushworth and Ben Stokes each claimed three of the wickets, Stokes beginning with a seven-over spell that brought him 2 for 10. But Durham’s other England bowler Mark Wood was off the field having physiotherapy during the afternoon and, although he returned to the field, he bowled only six overs in the day.
Stokes was the star of the early exchanges, generating pace and bounce from the Chapel End after coming on first change.
He pinned Chris Dent lbw for 19 and had Benny Howell taken at gully off a sharply lifting delivery for four after Gloucestershire had elected to bat in bright sunshine.
In between the two wickets Stokes struck James Bracey a painful blow on an elbow. After treatment the 21-year-old batsman headed off to hospital for a more extensive examination.
Hammond, already a centurion at the Festival, again looked in fine form, putting on 40 with Dent for the first wicket. The left-hander was unbeaten on 36 at lunch, which was taken with Gloucestershire 80 for two off 28 overs.
Hammond went on to a half-century off 97 balls, with 9 fours. But he fell early in the afternoon session, bowled by Rushworth, who beat his defensive shot.
Roderick survived a couple of blows to the helmet on the lively pitch to post fifty off 93 deliveries, with 8 fours, and shared a fourth-wicket stand of 107 with Higgins to put their side on top.
Tea was taken at 218 for three, with Higgins having brought up his half-century off 67 balls, hitting six fours. It was an untimely interval for Roderick, who in the first over after the resumption fell lbw to Salisbury on the back foot.
Higgins went past his previous best score of 63 and set his sights on three figures. The injured Bracey returned to help add 64 before departing to the second new ball, an lbw victim for Rushworth.
Kieran Noema-Barnett fell cheaply to the same bowler, but Higgins punched the air at reaching his ton off 141 balls, having increased his boundary count to 12.
He was caught at backward point off what proved the final delivery of the day to his intense frustration, Stokes claiming a third wicket. He ended the day with three for 40 from an impressive 18.4 overs, while Rushworth had three for 82 off 20.