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.
While Northant’s only real lineup issue is a question of who comes in at five Durham will have an almost completely second choice seam attack. There is also a question over whether or not to play the specialist spinner George Harding. I think it is likely that Harding does play and either Collingwood or Jennings acts as the fourth seamer in this match. This is a risk but would allow Pringle to be dropped in favour of the returning Michael Richardson. If Durham do go this way and pick three seamers it is almost certain that Barry McCarthy comes into the side to replace Rushworth and will share the new ball with Paul Coughlin. The question of who replaces Weighell will come down to the option of Gavin Main or Josh Coughlin. Due to Durham’s long tail it feels like this could be a good opportunity to give J Coughlin his debut due to his good batting form with the 2nd XI, however Main brings an extra pace that could be otherwise lacking. Overall, I would come down on the side of Main. His pace would give the attack some variation and an appearance would be a great reward for his persistence since returning from injury. If the three main seamers are Paul Coughlin, McCarthy and Main they come into the match with just 35 first class matches between them.
Durham: Cook, Jennings, Steel, Richardson, Clark, Collingwood, Poynter, P Coughlin, McCarthy, Harding, Main.
Northants: Holden, Newton, Wakely, Keogh, Cobb, Rossington, Crook, Kleinveldt, White, Buck, Sanderson.