No play

First published in Sport The Northern Echo: Photograph of the Author by

AFTER a lunchtime downpour there has been no play this afternoon, despite a fair amount of blue sky. The umpires emerged just before 3pm, tip-toeing on to the field like New Year’s Day swimmers wondering whether they dare brave the icy North Sea.

They didn’t get very far before deciding they would inspect again at 4pm, which seems excessively cautious on a ground which slopes towards the sea.

Considering that England and Scotland managed to stage a game on an Aberdeen paddy field, the general lack of urgency in resuming county games remains frustrating.

Meanwhile, a trawl of the record books reveals that there have been three higher stands against Durham than the 335 put on by Luke Wright and Ben Brown.

The highest was 359 by Surrey openers Mark Butcher and Ian Ward at the Oval in 2000 and as recently as 2010 Essex’s Jaik Mickelburgh (174) and James Foster (169) put on 339 for the fifth wicket at Riverside.

As in this game, that was a strange score card as the third highest scorer was Alastair Cook with 44.

It was also in early season after Durham had won the title in the previous two years. It was followed by Yorkshire scoring 610 for six at Headingley (Jacques Rudolph 228 not out) then Nottinghamshire made 559 for eight at Trent Bridge.

Again runs came down the order with Alistair Brown and Chris Read putting on 237 for the seventh wicket. Durham lost the match – their first defeat for 23 championship games – and Will Smith was sacked as captain.

Although there are marked similarities between now and then it is inconceivable that the same thing will happen to Paul Collingwood. His captaincy over the previous season and a half has been phenomenal, but on flat pitches he doesn’t have enough heavy artillery at his disposal.

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