Durham left feeling under the weather at Old Trafford

Durham have a big job today after a weekend which left them feeling under the weather in more ways than one

Simon Pendrigh Simon Kerrigan dismisses Scott Borthwick
Simon Kerrigan dismisses Scott Borthwick

From farcical rain, sleet and hail, to players vomiting as they prepared to bowl, Scott Borthwick being called for a bouncer and Ben Stokes sending down some off-spin, it was an odd weekend at Old Trafford.

It is not one Durham will look back on fondly.

They are not in a good position to secure the win which will distance them from the Division One relegation zone, but are vulnerable to the defeat which could drag them into it.

Still 22 behind with Mark Stoneman already out, Durham must post a score Lancashire cannot reach in their last game before Twenty20 finals day.

If Saturday’s cricket was a grind on a pitch offering plenty to spinners turning the ball away from the left-handers but little for the rest, Sunday’s was frustratingly stop-start with six rain delays at a cost of 33 overs.

But Durham felt under the weather in more respects than just that.

Their problems with the ball this season have not been helped by the fact that so often they have struggled to keep an entire attack on the field for four days. They took two bowling points in conceding a first-innings score north of 400 for the third County Championship game running.

The Riversiders’ recent schedule has seen many an hour on buses heading from one extreme of the country to another. The fatigue it causes leaves players vulnerable to injury and illness.

Ryan Buckley suffered most from the virus apparently brought into the dressing room by John Hastings.

Picked for the first time this year on a turning pitch – not something Durham spinners are often treated to – he had every right to feel sick after bowling just two overs. It was terrible luck for him and his team.

After a Friday night emptying his guts, Buckley began Saturday’s first session batting and ending it bowling, but was not seen after lunch. With team-mates regularly trotting off, Paul Coughlin was prominent, though not quite as much as it seemed with fellow substitute Peter Chase wearing one of his spare jumpers.

At one point, Hastings removed his sweater ready to replace Stokes, stretching and straining his side, mid-over. Before it even got over his head Hastings left the field, so Stokes just got on with it.

One of Borthwick’s Sunday spells was delayed while he threw up on the outfield.

Even so, the leg-spinner got through 49 overs – his most in a First-Class innings. He was unable to take full advantage, bowling too many full tosses and not causing enough problems to the batsmen from the Pavilion End, where every now and then a ball took off. Borthwick was even called for bouncing Paul Horton.

Horton was Saturday’s centurion but Sunday’s was Ashwell Prince. Curious, then, that Prince seemed so reluctant to bat.

Three times the players went off for rain before lunch yesterday. Each time it had blown through once the hover cover reached the middle.

So it was no great shock when it rained again four balls into the afternoon session. Prince, who survived on 68 when his toe-ended pull dropped just in front of Stokes, diving forward at cover, immediately headed to the dressing room. The umpires and Durham players stayed out, and by the time Prince got to the boundary, the rain had stopped.

When it next started hammering down, Hastings ran in regardless. Prince, 91 not out, backed away and lost off-stump.

The umpires called dead ball and headed off again.

Tom Smith batted with more vigour, driving well, but fell to a good low gully catch by Calum MacLeod for 40, and Lancashire’s push for a fourth batting point went with him. It was reward for Chris Rushworth, who used the breaks to bowl unchanged through the morning.

Coming in at eight with a top score of 20, Stephen Parry made 37 to put his side in front. Paul Coughlin dropped his top-edged pull at long leg, though in the swirling wind and slippery under foot, his juggling was forgivable. Four balls later Parry got a thinner edge to Phil Mustard.

Prince upped the tempo after reaching 100 but soon played on. The tail added 28 before Stokes demolished Glenn Chapple’s stumps.

Stoneman’s inside edge to short leg left one less player who can produce the match-saving innings his side need today.


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