Jos Buttler’s first century for Lancashire’s cricketers was not enough to propel the Red Rose to victory as they suffered a 27-run LV= County Championship defeat to Durham at Chester-le-Street.
Buttler, England’s limited-overs wicketkeeper-batsman, did his chances of Test recognition no harm with an unbeaten 100 off 131 balls, but his county slipped into the bottom two of Division One after an agonising defeat.
The visitors appeared to be on course for victory when Buttler and Steven Croft put on 129 for the fifth wicket to lead their side to 203 for five in pursuit of 340, but Durham fought back and Chris Rushworth’s four-wicket haul, including last man Simon Kerrigan, gave them an overdue triumph.
Durham took the two wickets they wanted in the first hour, only for the change bowlers to come under fire from Croft and Buttler.
Under clear skies the pitch looked flat and so did Ben Stokes, whose first six overs cost 34 runs. And despite the fortunate dismissal of Ashwell Prince, strangled down the leg side, Paul Coughlin was similarly expensive.
When Scott Borthwick replaced Coughlin a long hop in his second over was flat-batted for a straight six by Buttler, who drove the next ball over extra cover.
Croft drove a Borthwick full toss for his seventh four to reach 50 off 66 balls, but his exit sparked Lancashire’s decline.
Croft (72) pulled Ben Stokes to deep square-leg, where Gordon Muchall held a good catch, and Buttler lost his fluency after racing to 50 off 51 balls.
Initially he was happy to play second fiddle to Tom Smith, who eased to 26 before Paul Collingwood’s bowling changes began to pay dividends.
Smith pushed forward to the fourth ball of a John Hastings spell and a thick edge flew low to Borthwick at gully.
Glen Chapple made a streaky 14 before Ben Stokes returned and the visiting captain chased the fourth ball, which was short and wide, and edged to Phil Mustard.
When Kyle Hogg pushed tentatively forward and was bowled by Hastings, number 10 batsman Kabir Ali joined Buttler with 71 needed.
On five, Kabir skied a pull off Stokes, which just cleared the fielder at long-leg and went for six, and the next ball produced four leg-side byes.
The target was down to 31 when Hastings had Kabir caught at forward short leg for 26, then Rushworth took the new ball with Buttler on 97.
He cut the first ball for two and pushed the second to deep cover for a single to complete his hundred off 131 balls.
But two balls later Simon Kerrigan played across an in-swinger and was lbw, giving Rushworth his fourth wicket, and Lancashire were all out for 312.