Ben Stokes smashes county record 17 sixes

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Ben Stokes has returned to action in astonishing fashion for the first time since being named England Test captain with a record-breaking century for Durham in the County Championship match with Worcestershire.

The superstar allrounder struck 17 sixes, a century before lunch, and 34 off an over from Josh Baker on his way to 161 from just 88 deliveries at Worcester's New Road on Friday.

Stokes beat the record of 16 maximums in a Championship innings, by Gloucestershire's Australian star Andrew Symonds in 1995 and Essex player Graham Napier in 2011.

His efforts enabled Durham to declare on 6-580 shortly after lunch before a five-wicket haul from Matthew Potts reduced Worcestershire to 6-169.

Fittingly, Stokes' exploits were witnessed by Durham chair Sir Ian Botham, who was delighted to see Stokes in such destructive form before taking over from Joe Root against New Zealand in the Lord's Test.

Stokes scored just 12 from his opening 30 deliveries before England Under-19 spinner Baker bore the brunt in one over where he was just ball away from being hit for six sixes.

The first five deliveries cleared the ropes, three over long-on, as Stokes' century came up from 64 balls.

There was a conference between Baker, club captain Brett D'Oliveira and other players before the final ball.

Stokes struck it down the ground but it bounced once before clearing the boundary, much to his frustration.

But he did not let it affect him and launched another six onslaught against Worcestershire's long-serving talisman, Joe Leach.

David Bedingham completed an excellent hundred of his own as the morning session produced a staggering 210 runs from 27 overs.

Stokes reached 150 by hitting the first ball after the interval for six, and the Championship six record was achieved with a straight hit off D'Oliveira.

An unforgettable innings finally ended when he holed out to Jack Haynes on the midwicket boundary off D'Oliveira.

With the ball, Stokes later produced two decent spells, taking 0-13 off nine overs.

Elsewhere, England seamer Ollie Robinson took three top-order wickets in his first appearance since the Ashes as Middlesex closed on 6-284 in response to Sussex's 392 at Hove.

Robinson, who missed the Windies tour because of back spasms and a tooth infection, bowled Middlesex's Australian captain Peter Handscomb for just six during his impressive outing.

Marnus Labuschagne missed out in Glamorgan's 5-305 in reply to Leicestershire's 320 all out, the Australian star falling for 17 on the last ball before lunch at Cardiff.

Fellow Aussie Test batter Marcus Harris also got out for 17 for Gloucestershire as they were bowled out for 179 by Hampshire, for whom Pakistan seamer Mohammad Abbas took 6-45.

Sam Curran's 73 helped Surrey to 401 against Northants, who slumped to 8-154 at the Oval.

At Chelmsford, Paul Walter registered his maiden first-class hundred as his 143 helped Essex to 403 against Yorkshire, who stumbled to 3-81 but still have Root and Dawid Malan to bat.

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