Durham embarrassed themselves at Hove in their first championship match since the end of the One Day Cup break. Losing by an innings and 177 runs does not flatter Sussex as their bowling and the record breaking 376 run partnership between Luke Wells and Stiaan van Zyl made sure of a thrashing. Durham have the excuse of losing Graham Onions to injury after bowling just 10 overs in the first innings, this loss exacerbated the problems the side faces without an effective spinner.
On the first morning both sides seemed content at the toss. On a sunny day Paul Collingwood chose to have a toss in an attempt to bat first but when Luke Wright won it he put Durham in anyway. On the face of it this seemed an odd decision but was proven to be correct as Durham could only manage one partnership of more than 100 in the innings, Ryan Pringle and Paul Coughlin the only notable contributors with 50s as the side were all out for 287. The main damage was done in a spell before Lunch where Durham lost Cameron Steel, Stephen Cook and Paul Collingwood for just 18 runs and in just four overs. When Graham Onions gave Harry Finch a golden duck before the end of play on Day 1 it felt as though the game was still on.
Durham were still very much in the game when Sussex’s other opener Chris Nash was removed by Onions early the next morning. This was when Luke Wells played the innings of his career (258), and Stiaan van Zyl showed why he had managed to become an international for South Africa (149). This partnership, a record for Sussex against Durham, took the game away completely and there was only ever going to be one winner by the time Durham managed to dismiss the side for 668. Graham Onions, the man who provided the early breakthroughs was absent injured after he managed 10 overs and this meant that Ryan Pringle had to bowl 36 overs and Cameron Steel bowled 18. All of Durham’s attack were off the boil and had no one like David Wiese or Chris Jordan for Sussex who could keep their economy rate down and build up pressure. This is normally where Chris Rushworth shines but he had an off day without Onions. Onions’ absence from the side will be keenly felt and it Durham’s hopes of a respectable championship campaign were all but gone, this injury has confirmed it.
Durham’s response as they looked to bat out two days was poor. Cook fell to the first ball of the innings and Jennings went soon afterwards. Steel, Collingwood, Pringle and Weighell put up token resistance but they were delaying the inevitable. Next up is a trip to Swansea to take on Glamorgan, life in Division 2 continues to be depressing and now the season is really only about rekindling some pride and preparing for next year’s promotion push.