Durham may plead poverty at every turn, but they still have friends in high places.
Not many counties can be struggling for a spinner and turn to Shane Warne, but the Riversiders have.
Between them Paul Collingwood and his good friend Michael Vaughan fixed Scott Borthwick up with a Lord’s masterclass with the greatest leg-spinner ever to grace the earth, and already the effects are noticeable.
Today Durham will be hoping Borthwick can continue his recent rock-solid batting form, but the first signs of recovery in his bowling are much more significant.
During the first innings against Yorkshire Borthwick enjoyed his longest bowl since the season’s opener – three more balls and it would have even beaten that.
Not only has he rediscovered his self-confidence, it seems Collingwood has more belief in him too.
“I had two or three hours with (Warne) on Thursday morning and it was absolutely amazing to spend time with him and hear his thoughts on how he gets blokes out,” said Borthwick, who showed the benefit in Friday’s Twenty20 win over Yorkshire. “He came across as an absolutely perfect bloke, amazing. By the end of it I felt like I could ask him about anything.
“To have two or three hours with my hero and an absolute legend was absolutely perfect.
“It was the sort of thing he did in his masterclass during the last Ashes (which was at Chester-le-Street). He’d bowl three or four balls at someone and he’d tell you, he’s trying to do this or that, and I’ll try and get him out this way. It was just amazing to spend that time with him.
“During the Ashes in ’09 I was 12th man for England and I did a bit of bowling with him them. Then when I went to the Darren Lehmann Academy in Adelaide (in 2010-11), I did some work with him.
“So it was the third time I’d worked with him, but the longest time I’d spent.
“He told me if ever I want to ask him anything to send him a text or call him. If he’s going to give me his number I’ll quite happily ring him.
“If I’m going to get back into the England side it will be as a spinner. I’ve got to keep improving my batting and keep taking slip catches but hopefully I can keep taking wickets.”
If things had been different, Borthwick might be in the England side now, having made his debut in the winter’s last Ashes Test. But while his bowling has made a stuttering start to 2014, Moeen Ali has taken his chance to fill Graeme Swann’s not inconsiderable shoes.
“I haven’t bowled too much this summer because of the rain and a couple of cracks in my fingers,” Borthwick pointed out.
“To get four overs in here last week and win the (Twenty20) game was a nice confidence boost. To get through 18 overs in the first innings was good as well.
“In Abu Dhabi I bowled 42 overs and in the first Championship game of the season I bowled 28 at Northants. I thought it was going to be a busy summer for me, which is what I want.
“Then in the second game I cracked my ring finger and couldn’t bowl for the Yorkshire game on Sky. It would have been nice to bowl then. Against Somerset I cracked my other one.
“Hopefully I can get back into a rhythm and get my confidence up.”
Yorkshireman Max Morley is in Durham’s squad for this game after some good second-team performances but Borthwick’s batting makes his spin far easier to accommodate.
He wrapped up Yorkshire’s innings yesterday, but not before the hosts’ last pair squeezed out the runs needed for maximum batting points, and a few more for good measure.
Until Jack Brooks joined Ryan Sidebottom the Tykes had shown no more resilience than the previous afternoon, when they went from 270-0 to 344-7. Borthwick took his third slip catch when Tim Bresnan took a swing at John Hastings.
Wood was denied a five-wicket haul when Collingwood put a catch down – but only temporarily.
Not for the first time, he got a ball to jump alarmingly, and Steven Patterson could only help it to the slips. A leaping Collingwood got both hands to it, but could not hold on.
Undeterred, Wood served the tail-ender a similar delivery two overs later, and this time Phil Mustard took the catch.
When Brooks was struck on the hand ducking into a Wood bouncer, Durham must have been expecting a swift conclusion, but he put on 45 for the last stand.
Durham went into the 110th over – at the end of which first-innings bonuses are calculated – with maximum points, but Yorkshire were still a run short.
Four Borthwick dot balls had them sweating until Brooks swept a four to hearty cheers. That shot was Sidebottom’s undoing, picking out Paul Coughlin on the rope.
Durham’s response was stop-start – nine overs before lunch, another 10.5 after, and just five deliveries squeezed between rain delays.
Patterson gave Keaton Jennings plenty of problems in swinging conditions and when Bresnan followed his lead, he enticed Mark Stoneman to nibble at an outswinger. Borthwick could have gone too, but when he edged on two, a diving Adam Lyth put down a chance which may even have reached him on the half-volley.
Durham resume on 50-1, needing another 227 to avoid the follow-on.