Calum MacLeod and John Hastings to the rescue after Durham are caught in a spin

Lancashire are testing out Durham's batting against spin at Old Trafford, but Calum MacLeod and John Hastings rose to the challenge

John Hastings
John Hastings

You expect a clatter of wickets in the first session of a County Championship match – but not to the spinners.

The first day at Old Trafford was not your average county cricket match.

Lancashire had prepared a pitch to suit the twirlers, although the 22 yards probably did not need all that much preparation.

It was the strip used for the Test match which finished six days earlier.

With footmarks already outside the left-handers’ off-stump at both ends by then, it was no surprise to see slow left-armer Simon Kerrigan bowling the 16th over of the match.

It took five deliveries to rag one so far as to make his lbw appeal ludicrously optimistic.

The ball might just have clipped leg stump on a second set.

Such moves have backfired on Durham’s opponents before.

Lancashire must win to drag their visitors right into the Division One relegation battle but Paul Collingwood won the toss and last use of the surface.

He handed a first Championship appearance of 2104 to off-spinner Ryan Buckley.

That was a surprise as the 20-year-old from Darlington had not been named in the 12-man squad released the previous afternoon.

It was not as if Durham had taken one look at the pitch and got on the phone. By the time they arrived last night, Manchester was pitch black.

Buckley’s first game of last season – his first full stop – came at The Oval in May 2013 when Surrey produced a similar pitch, believing Gareth Batty and Gareth Keedy would have too much skill for Durham’s spinners. Buckley and Scott Borthwick bowled Durham to victory.

They will have plenty of work to do but Durham had Calum MacLeod and John Hastings to thank for ending play with smiles a million miles from their faces at 89-5 at lunch.

At that stage it looked like it would be a pitch-inspector demanding day laden with wickets.

However, it proved to be a flurry of just 14 overs, the time it took to take five wickets. Durham closed on 329-8.

They started brightly, two cover drives from Mark Stoneman oozing good form as he passed 5,000 first-class runs - only for him to edge behind pushing forward for 31 from 37 deliveries.

Kerrigan’s introduction changed everything. Ashwell Prince dropped Borthwick on two and Keaton Jennings decided now he is a one-day batsman his solution to spin was the reverse sweep. He bottom-edged off his pad to short leg.

Borthwick too mistimed to the wrong half of the field, coming down the pitch and finding mid-off.

It took an excellent Alex Davies catch to remove him, but Collingwood followed an outswingerwhile Phil Mustard was lbw trying to flick to leg.

Four of the five to go were left-handers but the trouble for Lancashire was the only one Durham had left, Ben Stokes, was racing up the motorway from The Oval.

Short of cricket after the recent limited-overs glut, Michael Richardson gritted his teeth for 38 from 95 deliveries, adding 73 with MacLeod before helping the ball to gully.

This was MacLeod’s Championship debut having previously been pigeon-holed as a white-ball specialist.

Some of his runs were ugly, with more than his fair share of cross-batted swipes, but you would have been hard pushed to find a Durham supporter who cared.

He was hit by the first ball of each of Glenn Chapple’s opening two overs returning at the Pavilion End and tested with the short ball throughout, but he was unfazed, falling 16 short of three figures when lbw playing across the line.

By then he and Hastings had doubled the score and bought Stokes time to take Paul Coughlin’s place in the batting line-up.

Hastings’ white-ball holiday has got his eye in. He smote six sixes, the first straight, the rest pulled or slog swept for very long hits. The way he demolished the stumps hitting straight was a warning to fielders to keep their hands well away.

Three times at least his running between the wickets was harem-scarem. Had Steven Croft hit the stumps from point his entertaining knock would have been cut short on 17. Like MacLeod, he went in the 80s, his middle stump sent cartwheeling by a ball which kept low.

Graham Onions may not play again this year after tearing his left internal oblique muscle.

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