IT was a typically Paul Collingwood way to respond to the charges of over-caution that were levelled at him following last week’s draw with Middlesex.
Having stood accused of being risk-averse for holding off on a declaration in the top-of-the-table County Championship clash last week, Durham’s evergreen campaign responded in the best possible way by smacking a swashbuckling 79 to swat aside lacklustre Derbyshire.
It was the kind of riposte that we should have come to expect from Durham’s evergreen campaigner. With a sprinkling of big hits and eight sumptuous boundaries, it was just the sort of knock that Durham required to get their YB40 campaign back on track.
Allied to some exciting work from Ben Stokes, who contributed with a flashy 40, and the quick-scoring Gordon Muchall, it gave Durham the sort of ascendancy that even a late blast of May rain couldn’t dampen.
With Graham Onions adding another three wickets, it was a very satisfying day at the office.
“It was a good performance by everyone. The guys are finding their roles in the side now and after a few games we’re starting to put things together,” Collingwood said. “I had a good partnership with Scotty Borthwick at the top of the order and then Ben Stokes came in and we all know how powerful he can be.”
Collingwood’s knock of 79 underpinned a Durham innings that was exciting and accomplished – and the exact opposite of cautious. Derbyshire simply couldn’t compete, and when the rains came late in the afternoon they were well short of where they needed to be as Durham secured a 43-run win.
“I thought we played the spin pretty well,” Collingwood said. “Obviously with the rule changes and the extra man in you do have to take risks. You can’t just knock it around at a run a ball time or time again. You do have to knock it over the top from time to time. We chose when to take those risks really, really well. Again, Gordon Muchall was good to bat with at the end.”
As an exercise in shot-making and picking holes in the opposition’s field, you would be hard-pressed to have found a more convincing innings than Durham’s.
Mark Stoneman perished in the second over – caught deep in the out-field by Billy Godleman after a clumsy attempt at a lobbed shot – and Durham appeared to be wobbling when Phil Mustard wasted some fine early work by stepping out of his crease to be clean bowled by Turner to leave the home side on 40-2.
After that it was really all Durham as they took the game to the visitors. It was pleasing on the eye too, as first Collingwood and then Muchall constructed two fine innings. Collingwood’s was more of a slow burner, although he marched onto 50 with a typically swash-buckling boundary from Wainwright’s bouncer.
It might have been different for Derbyshire if Godleman had not wasted a decent chance to see him off by dropping a simply catch the boundary when he was still on 39. He went on to make another 40 runs before Mark Footit found a way through his defences – but that was only the prompt for Muchall to up the tempo and rocket towards his own half century.
His unbeaten 57 was made up of seven boundaries and two sixes: a testament to the skilful shot-making that saw him construct one of the most pleasing half-centuries you are likely to see at the Emirates ICG this season.
The contribution of the two veterans Muchall and Collingwood rather overshadowed a fine cameo from Ben Stokes, whose 40 included a six smacked straight out of the ground and into the car-park.
267 was some total to chase and, despite a brief flurry of inclement weather, it always looked like an uphill task for Derbyshire.
They had to come out swinging and Chesney Hughes seemed to sense the urgency of Derbyshire’s task by smacking two boundaries from Graham Onions’ first three deliveries. That strong start was strangled by Onions pretty quickly, however, as he struck with his fifth ball to trap the big West Indian leg before wicket.
Durham couldn’t breathe too freely until they removed Derbyshire’s other potential match-winner but that was taken care of within eight overs – the irresistible Onions striking again as he squeezed an outside edge that was well caught by Mustard.
When Onions struck again to remove Paul Borrington there seemed to be no doubt whatsoever where the win was heading. Even that late flurry of rain couldn’t stop Durham, with the officials handing the home side the win by 43 runs after some swift calculations via the Duckworth-Lewis method.