County Championship. Kent vDurham at Canterbury. June 08-11.
Durham have a long trip to Kent in the Championship in what will be another tough match. Durham have nothing to play for whereas Kent are going for promotion. On the injury front Durham are still without Burnham, Onions, Weighell and Carse but Chris Rushworth returns to the squad. There is however a chance that Paul Coughlin will be rested despite his superb form. Kent’s only absence is James Harris who has been recalled from his loan back to Middlesex as Steven Finn has been called up to the England squad. Harris’s return means that Mitch Claydon is likely to come into the side and will face his former club. A new face to county cricket, Yasir Shah, comes into their squad instead of James Tredwell. The Pakistan international leg spinner should be an interesting challenge for Durham’s batting lineup and may tempt them into bringing in George Harding as an extra spinner if Kent prepare their pitch to suit their new overseas star.
For the second game in a row Durham lost a Championship match in the final over. In reality Northants were the better team for most of the game and, while rain almost caused a draw, Durham were deserved losers. There were positives from the match however, with Rushworth, Onions, Weighell and Carse injured, Paul Coughlin stepped up brilliantly as he recorded his first five wicket haul in the 1st innings and got another in the 2nd. A further positive was Cameron Steel’s batting who hit his first century for Durham.
The game was lost on the first day as Northants bowled Durham out for 166. The returning Michael Richardson top scored with 27 but no one could manage to put together a significant partnership. Nathan Buck, cheered on by his own supporters section, took 6-34 in that innings. Durham made a positive start with the ball as Rob Newton, Alex Wakely, Richard Keogh and Chesney Hughes all fell cheaply and Northants were reeling at 67-4. Opener Max Holden was also dropped several times in this period of the game as Coughlin and McCarthy looked extremely threatening.
Holden would punish Durham for not taking him early as he was involved in a 98 run partnership with Adam Rossington and a 162 run partnership with Josh Cobb, who was making his return to red ball cricket. Cobb was eventually dismissed by Coughlin for 96 and Holden by Collingwood for 124. It was these innings that were the difference in the match as Northants 338 gave them a huge lead of 172.
More rain this week (Sat 27 May) although only one match was abandoned. There were no huge shocks although Tynemouth were embarrassingly skittled out for 31. South Northumberland still top the table and it looks as if the league is shaping up for a two way title fight between them and Benwell Hill.
Durham Acadamy were the higher scorers in a draw with Eppleton.
In a rain affected match Durham Acadamy took the extra points in what was an even contest. Scott Steel scored 81 and captain Christopher McBride 63 as Durham scored 193-3. Durham scored at a good rate with Steel and McBride both going at almost a run a ball. No one for Eppleton could repeat this as they ended on 120-4.
South Northumberland were the higher scorers in a draw with Hetton Lyons.
Another winning draw for South Northumberland against a title rival allowed them to maintain their lead. Keeper Rob Peyton top scored with 46 as they finished with 181-8. Hetton’s bowlers shared the wickets around with Josh Coughlin (who was named in Durham’s 13 man championship squad against Northants), Reece Wood, Robert Talbot and Cameron Grimwood all getting two. Opener Dominic Thomson scored 71 for Hetton but they scored at a slower rate, taking more overs to reach the same score as South North.
County Championship. Durham v Northants at Chester-le-Street. June 02-05.
As the County Championship finally returns to the North East the major talking points around the side are injuries and the hopelessness of the season. If it was not already clear before the match against Glamorgan it is now painfully obvious that there is nothing to play for but pride in the County Championship. Normally a return home after some tough away defeats might be the thing that could turn a season around but new injuries have hit any hopes of victor hard. Chris Rushworth misses out with a back problem and James Weighell will not be involved due to a shin issue. With Brydon Carse also out with some mystery injury and Graham Onions still not returned the seam attack, which is normally Durham’s strength will be incredibly inexperienced.
Northants also have some injury worries with Richard Levi not included in the squad after he was taken to hospital following a blow to the head in their last match. Ben Duckett is another absentee as he is away with the England Lions. Northants have played one match since block of one day cup games as they were heavily beaten by Worcestershire. The players Durham need to be wary of are captain Alex Wakely, Adam Rossington as well as Rory Kleinveldt. Considering the problems caused by tail enders so far this season a run a ball 82 from Kleinveldt seems nailed on.
With Durham already having nothing to play for in the County Championship the only salvation from the rest of the season will be a show of fight from the team. Therefore, the two back to back away losses to Sussex and Glamorgan are a depressing sign of a team struggling for form and motivation.
A small positive from the Glamorgan defeat was that the two sides produced an entertaining four days with some good cricket on both sides, the same could not be said for the disgrace at Hove. Nonetheless, it remains embarrassing for a side such as Durham to lose to Glamorgan and so far the signs for next season are grim. For Durham this match was thrown away in two key moments, firstly at the end of the first day, after getting to 342 in the 92nd over, and with Paul Collingwood beginning to accelerate on 127 it looked as though maximum batting points were on the horizon. This was when Durham fell to a farcical collapse. Needing 58 from 18 overs to get the batting points did not need the tail to bat with reckless abandon, and when Collingwood fell lbw there should have been a more measured approach. However Durham then lost the final four wickets (including Collingwood), in 7 balls for no runs. This meant Durham threw away two bonus points and gave Glamorgan hope of staying in the game.
The next day it seemed like Durham’s bowing was finally finding some form with wickets falling regularly. Paul Coughlin particularly impressed as he took four but Chris Rushworth and James Weighell also took three each. George Harding, on his Championship debut, bowled too many overs in the first innings and was quite expensive. Glamorgan’s innings was however the complete opposite of Durham’s farce. While the Welsh side fell to 233-6 (as opposed to Durham’s 342-6), there last four wickets put on 120 (as opposed to Durham’s 0). This meant that Glamorgan ended up with a lead of 11. It was however the final partnership between new captain Michael Hogan and Andrew Salter who put on 74 for the final wicket. Again Durham’s bowling showed its lack of ruthlessness and the runs scored by Glamorgan’s tail gave flashbacks to Luke Fletcher and James Pattinson in the opening game of the season.