Ben Stokes came to Durham’s rescue on Sunday and may have to do so again today, but soon the all-rounder will stagger off into the sunset to resume a promising international career and a new hero will have to emerge.
Enter John Wayne.
Durham’s players were engrossed by the Indian Premier League yesterday, watching in noisy excitement as Mumbai Indians dramatically beat Rajasthan Royals just after the close of play in their County Championship game at Nottinghamshire.
Tomorrow they will be keeping an even closer eye on Chennai’s eliminator against Mumbai, hoping their soon-to-be new team-mate is on the losing side.
If he is, John Wayne Hastings – to give him his full name – will be on the first plane to the North East, champing at the bit to make his Championship debut.
The 28-year-old’s social media good luck messages have been a feature of almost every day’s cricket Durham have played this season. It is a sign of two things – firstly how much time he has had on his hands as a fringe member of the Super Kings’ star-studded squad, and secondly of how desperate he is to be a success in county cricket.
Not even jet leg will stop him.
“Depending on how Chennai do, we may have Hastings at the weekend,” Durham coach Jon Lewis confirmed. “He’s busting to play – he reckons if he turns up on Saturday he’ll be ready for Sunday (when Middlesex are the visitors in the Championship.
“He’s very keen. He seems like a really positive guy from the conversations I’ve had with him.
“He’s been keeping a close eye on us the last month while he’s been kicking his heels in India. Twitter seems to be a big part of his life, which is good! He’s excited to be coming and he wants to make an impact.
“All the indications so far are that he will fit in with us as a dressing room and a team.”
Durham will need him.
The Middlesex game could even be Stokes’ last of the season for Durham, with a call-up for the first Test of the summer all but guaranteed if he comes through it unscathed. Graham Onions sees a physiotherapist today and hopes to be given the all-clear to test out the back injury he picked up at Hove recently, but the outcome is far from guaranteed.
Jamie Harrison has been booked in to see a specialist about a knee injury Durham fear could keep him out for some time, and while Mark Wood may play in this week’s Twenty20 games at home to Lancashire on Thursday and then, ludicrously, back here at Trent Bridge on Friday, Championship cricket will provide a more rigorous test of his side injury.
Scott Borthwick realised in practice on Saturday that playing with two fractured fingers on the one hand is easier said than done. The side which Hastings joins may not just be depleted, but also still to taste victory in their first six Championship matches.
Rain washed out two sessions of yesterday’s second day against Nottinghamshire, and more is forecast for the rest of the match. It could doom it to Durham’s fifth draw of the campaign.
At least they did not capitulate in the 25 overs possible. Keaton Jennings was far from convincing, but far better to be unconvincing and unbeaten than the opposite.
He had just two runs to his name when he ducked into a Peter Siddle bouncer shortly before a 15-minute rain delay. James Taylor put him down on 12, the left-hander poking the ball towards short leg, who had more time than usual to see it coming as he was stood a fair way back.
Still, it was nothing like as simple as the chance Riki Wessels put down at first slip.
Jennings had 19 by then.
Nottinghamshire seemed convinced they had the opener caught behind in the penultimate over of the session and, it turned out, the day but, as with their appeals for Mark Stoneman’s wicket at the start of the morning, they fell on deaf ears, the ball coming off Jennings’ arm.
Ajmal Shahzad has frustrated Durham in the past – most notably with the bat in his Lancashire days – and took both wickets to fall yesterday.
With atmospheric conditions much more suited to swing bowling than under the blue skies of day one, the fear had always been that Stuart Broad and Siddle would do serious damage with the new ball.
But with Broad feeling his way back after a knee injury in a six-over spell and Siddle out of luck, it was left to Shahzad.
He came around the wicket to Stoneman straight away and struck with his third ball, the angle making the left-hander edge into Chris Read’s gloves.
Michael Richardson came out to bat at three, the role he expected to fill last year, only to find himself at eight for much of the season.
He was off the mark from his first delivery with a square-driven four, but that went through a fielder and the South African had not settled in when he was late on a Shahzad delivery which kept low to him and removed off stump.
If Richardson was scratchy, Gordon Muchall looked the part. The first of his four boundaries, wide of mid-off, was the shot of a man in good touch. His 24 runs from 20 balls made for an excellent cameo, but the right-hander needs more than that if he is to shake the unwanted tag of limited-overs specialist which has hung around his neck for the last couple of seasons.
Quite apart from personal ambitions, Durham need a couple of innings of substance to finally get the defence of their Championship up and running.
The stage is set for Stokes, expected to come in next, to come to the rescue, even if the rain did deny Paul Collingwood a run-out on his 38th birthday. With Durham better at accumulating injuries than points at the moment, they are in need of a hero.