County Championship. Glamorgan v Durham at Swansea. May 26-29.
The last time Durham played Glamorgan in the County Championship was back in 2004, the last time Durham were in Division 2. The match, which was played at Cardiff was the first class debut of Scotland captain Kyle Coetzer and saw Marcus North hit a double hundred in a draw, Coetzer and North are now opposing captains in the North East Premier League. Glamorgan, as a club, are a warning to Durham. From a region that the central authority has no love for, with a white elephant Test ground which has left the club in a tough financial position. The parallels are clear and now Durham are also in Division 2. When the County Championship is inevitably reformed after 2020 it feels as though Glamorgan will be one of the clubs placed in a Division 3, or reduced to minor county status. Durham cannot share the same fate but when the two sides meet this week it will provide a vision of what cricket in the North East could deteriorate to over the next decade.
On an equally depressing note, Durham are without Graham Onions for this match and so are will need Chris Rushworth to find his form again. This season it has surprisingly been the bowling that has let Durham down more than the batting so there will need to be an improvement soon. The batting lineup will probably not chance from the debacle at Hove as Ryan Pringle, who was most at risk of losing his place, was one of the few to show any resistance. If there is to be a chance, aside from Barry McCarthy in for Onions, it could be that George Harding comes in as a specialist spinner but this is unlikely. McCarthy though is finally back from international duty with Ireland and will need to hit the ground running as he looks to assert his position in the pecking order above James Weighell and the injured Brydon Carse.
Glamorgan have had a poor season like Durham. Two bad losses to Northants and Worcestershire at the start of the year have been followed by admirable draws against Leicestershire and Notts. The major talking point is Jacques Rudolph announcing that he will be retiring at the end of the season as well as giving up the captaincy in favour of bowler Michael Hogan. With the bat, Durham’s main concerns will be the inform Colin Ingram and the promising young Nye Donald. Aside from these two no other members of the Glam side is averaging above 35 after four matches. With the ball Glamorgan are extremely week, Marchant de Lange is probably the standout due to his pace although an eye should be kept on former North East Premier League star Timm van der Gugten.
For the first time this season it is not worth stressing that the game is must win, or a chance to turn the season around. There is nothing to play for on either side so hopefully we will see some good cricket. From a Durham point of view, it would be superb to see Keaton Jennings find some runs to keep himself in the England frame and hopefully the middle order also fires. Ideally Paul Coughlin will get his maiden hundred alongside Cameron Steel, both have been threatening to achieve this. This is also a great chance for Barry McCarthy and James Weighell. When they bowled together at the start of last season they were fantastic and if they can rediscover this it should, finally, be the first win of the year.
Glamorgan: Selman, Rudolph, Bragg, Ingram, Donald, Lloyd, Cook, Salter, de Lange, van der Gugten, Hogan.
Durham: Cook, Jennings, Steel, Clark, Collingwood, Coughlin, Pringle, Poynter, Weighell, McCarthy, Rushworth.