Durham’s draw against Yorkshire on Wednesday came at a high price.
After straining every sinew in the county’s longest-ever innings in the field – longer even than the one Brian Lara inflicted on them during his famous 501 – they had just a couple of days’ rest before climbing aboard the bus for Hove.
Durham were fielding for a mammoth 163.2 overs before Andrew Gale took pity on them and declared on Monday, his side still only eight wickets down. Even with Paul Collingwood trying to restrict the damage with 47 overs from his part-time bowlers, it took its toll.
Jamie Harrison is unlikely to be on the bus after his 25-over stint at Chester-le-Street, while Scott Borthwick is expected to take his place, but will not be fully fit.
“Yorkshire was a hard game even though we only bowled the once and it can take its toll,” coach Jon Lewis reflected ruefully.
“Jamie was struggling a bit towards the end of the Yorkshire game with a foot injury and he looks like he might not be in the squad.
“He’s been really good for us this season. He hasn’t had as much luck with the ball as he’s deserved but his batting has been crucial for us at times.
“He will be a miss. Usman Arshad missed out for the last game and it’s an opportunity for him to come back into the squad.
“Paul Coughlin won’t be available unfortunately with a small strain.”
Harrison has arguably been Durham’s most improved player this season.
Bowling remains his strongest suit, but after a winter working in the nets on his technique against spinners in particular, he averages 55 with the bat.
If Harrison is not yet a genuine all-rounder, Borthwick is, so the suggestion he might not be fit to bowl is a worrying one.
Someone had to make way for Sri Lanka legend Kumar Sangakkara this week and, having only bowled three overs in the opening two games, Gareth Breese was the logical choice.
So it was typical that without him, off-spinner Mark Stoneman got through 20 overs. Even to describe the opening batsman as a part-timer would be generous – before the Yorkshire match he had never turned his arm over in County Championship cricket.
There were two reasons for Stoneman being pressed into action.
Firstly, Durham’s inability to make inroads in seaming conditions meant far more work than normal for the bowlers on a pitch with a reputation for suiting them.
Secondly, leg-spinner Borthwick damaged his spinning finger dropping Adam Lyth on the first afternoon, and was unable to bowl. Durham are hopeful, but not certain, he will be able to do so on the south coast. He missed Breese and Gordon Muchall’s benefit match at Durham School last night (as did Collingwood with a sore Achilles), but bowled in the nets earlier in the day.
“Scott will definitely be involved in the game, it’s just whether he a play a full part as a bowler,” commented Lewis.
Borthwick is the only specialist Durham batsman yet to post a half-century in this season’s Championship but so good was he last season that it would be unthinkable to leave him out against Sussex.
Scottish seam bowler Gavin Main and off-spinner Ryan Pringle are both in the squad despite not having yet made their Championship debuts for the club.
Breese misses out again. The Sussex game, which starts tomorrow, will be Sangakkara’s last for Durham. He made a duck in his first innings against Yorkshire, followed by an unconvincing 14 in his second knock.
Even if two more low scores follow, Collingwood thinks the county will still look back on his two-game stay as worthwhile.
“He’s fitted in really well and the boys have really enjoyed having him around,” he said. “There’s no guarantees a batsman’s going to come in and score runs. Whether he does or not, it’s great to have a guy like him around the dressing room. We’re all on an education.”
Sussex will be without Chris Jordan, after England asked that he be rested.
DURHAM (from): Stoneman, Jennings, Borthwick, Sangakkara, Richardson, Collingwood (c), Mustard (wk), Arshad, Wood, Harrison, Onions, Rushwort, Main, Pringle.