Calum MacLeod made a dream debut for Durham last night when his unbeaten 80 powered them to a 29-run victory over Worcestershire in the opening game of the NatWest T20 Blast.
Coming from just 56 balls, his knock rescued an innings which languished on four for two early on, he and Paul Collingwood producing a fourth-wicket partnership of 113 to set their visitors a target of 174 which proved well beyond reach.
Collingwood’s three wickets for 29 cut off the oxygen supply as Worcestershire struggled to maintain the pace, Durham’s total never looking in danger.
Having lost the toss and been put into bat, the newly-named Jets were barely off the runway by the time Phil Mustard was trapped lbw by Moeen Ali for one after just four balls.
That handed debutant MacLeod a sooner-than-expected first crack for his new county, but the Scottish loan signing was forced to bat on without the assistance of Mark Stoneman when the captain edged an attempted pull to Ali for just two.
Scott Borthwick brought much-needed impetus as Durham passed double figures with two men down, he and MacLeod energising the innings with quick running between the wickets and an appetite to work the ball into space.
The Glaswegian’s 103 from just 57 balls in a recent second-team outing was an indicator of his attacking intent and the rate was edging back towards a run a ball when Borthwick emphatically smashed Charles Morris past the point boundary.
Extravagance was in no short supply as MacLeod lifted one over his own head for a one-bounce four, Borthwick only a foot short of a six as Jack Shantry was hooked towards the pavillion.
The fun was only halted when Borthwick failed to middle another attempted smash, Tom Kohler-Cadmore pouching his lofted mis-time as he ended a rapid-fire knock on 12.
Paul Collingwood’s arrival eased the growing sense of danger, the four-day skipper having this season been relieved of captaincy duties in the limited-overs formats of the game. He was a steadying influence at the other end as MacLeod continued to work Worcestershire to all corners, Collingwood’s singles keeping on strike the player he coached during his management stint with the national side north of the border.
His side passing the 50 mark in eight overs, the sheer range of shots had Worcestershire flailing as they struggled to contain the flurry of runs, MacLeod swiftly nearing his half-century while Collingwood weighed in with a delightfully-timed cover drive to the boundary – bringing up the 50 partnership with a six over midwicket.
It was becoming a question of who could reach 50 first, the Scot doing so in the 15th over when his 40th delivery was nudged to mid-on for two, Collingwood quickly following suit with a six from his 30th ball.
The Jets ended their innings at full speed as MacLeod smashed Saeed Ajmal into the seats, the century partnership coming a ball later from just 60 deliveries before Collingwood was beaten by the spin of Ajmal on 62, skying one to gully. That ended a 113-run partnership with two overs still to go, Gordon Muchall’s ballast extending the score to 173-4 at the end of their allotted 20.
With a required scoring rate of nine an over it was always a huge ask for the Rapids, Ali’s quickfire 21 halted when he top-edged Usman Arshad to MacLeod at square leg.
Richard Oliver quickly picked up the slack as Chris Rushworth was knocked around the ground, Worcestershire passing the 50 inside six overs and keeping on top of a scoring rate which had dropped to 8.6.
Scott Borthwick’s first ball put a dampener on their hopes as his spin tied Daryl Mitchell in knots, gone lbw for just a single run.
With it, the momentum swung back Durham’s way, and even when Gordon Muchall dropped Oliver in the deep on 37 the control remained theirs.
With the very next delivery New Zealand international Colin Munro mis-timed a big hit to Stoneman from Collingwood’s bowling, the variety of pace and length proving too much for the debutant.
The crowd of 2,633 rose to its feet when the veteran even added a bouncer to his repertoire, and was doing so again when his bowling saw a diving Muchall sending Oliver back to the pavilion for 43.
Borthwick ran out Kohler-Cadmore as the wickets continued to fall, Alex Kervezze Collingwood’s third victim as the middle order folded.
Just 144 was on the board when the last wicket fell, Durham off and running in convincing style.