Ed Barnard and Club Captain Brett D’Oliveira featured in a century stand for Worcestershire after an astonishing display of hitting by new England captain Ben Stokes in the LV=Insurance County Championship match with Durham at New Road.
Spectators were privileged to watch all-rounder Stokes strike 17 sixes and a century before lunch on his way to 161 from 88 deliveries.
Stokes’ number of maximums was a record for Championship innings, beating the 16 achieved by Andrew Symonds (1995) and Graham Napier (2011) for Gloucestershire and Essex, respectively.
His exploits were witnessed by Durham Chair and Worcestershire legend Sir Ian Botham, whose own career was legendary for such performances.
It was the sort of display that will remain long in the memory of those present, and Stokes received a standing ovation all-round New Road after D’Oliveira finally dismissed him.
Durham totalled 580-6 before declaring shortly after lunch.
There was an encouraging performance from Worcestershire left armer Ben Gibbon on his debut, and Ed Barnard also bowled some good spells.
Under cloudy skies, Worcestershire found it challenging during an inspired new-ball spell from Matthew Potts, who picked up four wickets.
But, not for the first time this season, D’Oliveira and Barnard counter-attacked to good effect during a century stand, although both would have been disappointed with the way they got out.
Worcestershire closed the day on 169-6 when bad light halted play with 12 overs remaining.
Durham resumed on 339-3, and Ben Gibbon picked up his second scalp of the innings when Scott Borthwick, on 89, was lbw to a delivery angled back in.
Stokes initially played himself in while scoring just 12 runs from his opening 30 deliveries.
But then came the sort of fireworks that have made Stokes one of cricket’s box office attractions during the past decade.
By any standards, it was an extraordinary display, and even wild geese flying across the ground looked in danger of being hit by the missiles launched from Stokes bat!
David Bedingham completed an excellent hundred of his own from just 120 balls and the morning session produced a staggering 210 runs from 27 overs.
Stokes’ innings finally ended when he holed out to Jack Haynes on the mid-wicket boundary off D’Oliveira.
Bedingham (135) was dismissed shortly before the declaration when he drilled Josh Baker to long off.
Potts produced a superb spell with the new ball, and the cloud cover certainly gave more help and assistance to the bowlers.
Jake Libby pushed forward and was caught behind for a first-ball duck, and Azhar Ali (0) clipped a leg-stump delivery to mid-wicket.
Jack Haynes went back and was lbw to delivery which nipped back, and Potts claimed his fourth wicket when Ed Pollock, on 32, nicked a delivery through to Ned Eckersley.
Barnard on six chopped a Stokes delivery onto the base of the stumps, but the bails were not dislodged.
The fifth-wicket partnership flourished, and two of Worcestershire’s in-form batters this summer again looked in good touch.
The century partnership came up from 194 balls, and the pair looked relatively untroubled until being dismissed in successive overs.
D’Oliveira (41) played a slashing cut at Chris Rushworth and was one-handed by keeper Eckersley high away to his right.
Barnard reached an 86 ball half-century in impressive style as he cover drove Potts for his ninth boundary.
But in the same over on 55 he left a delivery from Potts, which clipped his off bail and was bowled and shortly afterwards play was called off for the day.