Mitchell Claydon wins Durham reprieve for crucial clash

Mitchell Claydon has been handed a Durham reprieve for today’s County Championship game at home to Sussex

Mitchell Claydon of Durham
Mitchell Claydon of Durham

Mitchell Claydon has been handed a Durham reprieve for today’s County Championship game at home to Sussex.

Injuries to Mark Wood, Jamie Harrison and Callum Thorp saw the 30-year-old recalled from his loan at Kent yesterday afternoon.

But the presence in a 13-man squad of two youngsters with a combined 39 years and one First-Class appearance confirms Stephen Harmison and Ruel Brathwaite have long since played their last Durham games.

Brathwaite has been released, and is set to make his Hampshire debut against Northamptonshire this week.

Wood and Harrison picked up injuries in a seven-wicket win at Scarborough last week. Wood was unable to bowl in the second innings with a side injury, while Harrison has “an ankle impingement”.

Interim coach Jon Lewis said: “The best-case scenario is they’ll both be available for the last three games but we’d take one at this stage.”

Ben Stokes, who this week became the third most valuable player in county cricket this season in the official rankings, is on England one-day duty.

Twenty-year-old Usman Arshad will take Stokes’ place for only his second First-Class appearance. Seamer Josh Bousfield, 19, is also in the squad but the return of Claydon – and Graham Onions from a broken finger – may delay his debut.

“Bous is the leading wicket-taker for the second team this season,” Lewis noted. “He’s surpassed what I hoped he would do this season. He’s played a lot more than I anticipated and taken wickets.

“He was involved in the (fourth Ashes) Test match as a 12th man, so that was good experience for him and he’s been impressive in everything he’s done this year.

“The loss of Stokes makes it complicated. He’s a hell of a weapon with the ball and Scarborough was probably his best all-round performance I’ve seen. To lose that on its own is a big blow, to combine it with Wood and Harrison is even harder.”

Gareth Breese offers plenty of experience, but spin tends not to be used much at Chester-le-Street.

“We do like to pick the four seamers (at home),” said Lewis. “There’s every chance Richo (Michael Richardson) will go up to five (in the batting order) and we may go a little lighter in the batting.”

When Claydon’s loan was extended beyond the initial Twenty20 Cup period, it seemed his Durham career had ended too. Lewis said: “We made the decision around lunchtime yesterday. Two-hundred consecutive overs is a big ask. When you make a side follow-on and they get 419 it’s the hardest way to win a game.

“Fortunately Scott (Borthwick) brilliantly bowled overs the seamers didn’t have to. It’s not always the case at the Riverside that you can ask the spinners to do that.

“We’ve been in touch with Mitch throughout his loan so it’s not like he’s been off the radar completely.

“He actually phoned me at Scarborough. We’ve seen him in televised games and follow Kent’s matches anyway to see how a few of our (ex-)players are going.” The same cannot be said of Harmison, who took the last of 458 First-Class Durham wickets in June 2012.

“Unfortunately I don’t have enough evidence to judge him on,” said Lewis. “He played five matches for the second team in April and May, and a benefit game in June but other than that I’ve had to follow his scores for Ashington in the paper.”

This is Durham’s game in hand on leaders Yorkshire, and six points will leapfrog them in the table.

DURHAM (from): Stoneman, Jennings, Borthwick, Smith, Richardson, Collingwood (c), Mustard (wk), Arshad, Rushworth, Onions, Claydon, Breese, Bousfield

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