Jon Lewis has admitted some of his players did not know what had hit them before this week, but the Durham players do not think regionalising the Royal London Cup is the answer.
The Riversiders’ horrendous programme continues with their final away game in the competition under floodlights at Glamorgan tonight.
They have already been to Somerset, Kent and Sussex. Their only games at Chester-le-Street will be condensed into five days, starting on Sunday.
Less than 17 hours after the scheduled completion of their match against Surrey, they are due at Old Trafford for the resumption of their County Championship programme.
Coach Lewis said: “This is the first of three games in five days.
“We have three home games in less than a week, starting on Sunday, and after the last of them, we have to get straight on a bus that night to head to Old Trafford for a County Championship game the next morning. I don’t think some of the players realised quite what was coming up until we laid it out for them before the Sussex game.
“There are lots of things that could help. Our four away games in the group are far from ideal.
“Yet nothing’s going to change, it isn’t easy.”
Durham stayed over after Tuesday’s disappointing floodlit defeat to Sussex.
It would have helped their stretched finances if they had not had to wait until today for the next match. Playing Sussex and Kent in succession would also have made much more sense.
This is the first year of the 50-over competition, which in Durham’s case has been squeezed into 19 days. The format needs serious attention.
The ridiculous amount of time Durham have had to spend on the team bus has greatly added to their fatigue and therefore their risk of injury.
Some critics have suggested a regionalised format – as is the case in Twenty20 cricket – to cut down on the travel and the cost involved.
Hwever, Lewis added: “I don’t think a regional group would be the answer.
“You end up seeing the same people all the time, which for us means Yorkshire, Notts, Leicester or Derbyshire.
“I haven’t been to Cardiff forever, I imagined it’s changed a lot since I was last there.
“It was nice to go to Canterbury earlier in the competition as well.”
Lewis can also see cricketing reasons for resisting regionalisation as well.
“At times it can be a different game in the north to the south,” said the former Essex and Durham opener. I think nine of the ten top run-scorers in the Twenty20 played for teams in the southern group.
“They tend to play on better pitches and smaller grounds than the northern teams to.
“When we won the 50-over competition in 2007 the group stages were regional and we were very good at playing Twenty20 cricket (Durham’s only finals day appearance was the following season).
“The next year the regional groups were scrapped and you had to play 300-run cricket to win matches. We are getting better at that, but it’s a different skill to playing at home.”
Durham will have to decide who makes way for Ben Stokes, who has been released by England having not been selected for the fourth Test.
Meanwhile, the second team lost their Championship match to Nottinghamshire by an innings and 27 runs. Ryan Pringle added 41 to his first-innings 74 and Ryan Buckley scored 58.
DURHAM (from): Stoneman (c), Mustard (wk), MacLeod, Borthwick, Collingwood, Muchall, Jennings, Breese, Hastings, Rushworth, Onions, Richardson, Coughlin