PAUL Collingwood seemed determined not to be upstaged by the Scot he recommended to Durham as they shared a rollicking stand of 113 in 12 overs last night.
In making his highest Twenty20 score for Durham of 62, Collingwood’s 30-ball half-century was ten balls faster than Calum Macleod’s, but his protégé went on to make a highly impressive unbeaten 80 in the total of 173 for four.
It was enough for a 29-run win in the opening NatWest T20 Blast match at home to Worcestershire, who also had an audacious free spirit making his senior debut in Shropshire left-hander Richard Oliver.
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The visitors were ahead of the rate until he was brilliantly caught for
43 by Gordon Muchall, who held on one-handed after moving swiftly to his right at long-off.
That was the second of three wickets for the canny Collingwood, who has generally been more effective with the ball than the bat for Durham in this competition. In this sort of all-round form he is going to be a key man after missing most of the last two campaigns through injury.
After being put in Durham could scarcely have got off to a worse start as they were four for two after two overs with both openers back in the hutch.
Worcestershire opened up with the gentle off spin of Moeen Ali and after both batsmen took a single Phil Mustard played back to the fourth ball, trying to work it to leg, and was lbw.
Skipper Mark Stoneman then lifted left-arm seamer Jack Shantry into the hands of deep square leg to depart for two.
MacLeod wasted no time in attempting the unorthodox as he tried to reverse sweep the second ball he faced.
His first four was carted in front of mid-wicket off Shantry then he really began to blossom when Charles Morris, a young seamer who has played for Devon, came on for the fifth over.
MacLeod took a stride forward, realised he wouldn’t get to the pitch and flat-batted the ball in front of point. It scorched to the boundary with such haste it should have been accompanied by one of those vapour trails in the video Durham produced to promote their baptism as the Jets.
Two balls later MacLeod took another stride forward and shovelled the ball over his left shoulder. It has become known as the ramp shot, but whatever it is called it most definitely isn’t in the MCC coaching manual.
The drive through extra cover in Morris’s next over, however, was pure textbook and there were several other shots which bisected the field with perfect placement.
Scott Borthwick was twice just short of the rope with a straight drive and a pull in making 12 before he drove a catch to mid-on.
Collingwood arrived at 33 for three and set about proving that, as he approaches his 38th birthday, he still has plenty of energy and striking power to go with the experience gained from 197 one-day and 35
He has not played much T20 cricket for Durham and his previous top score was 35.
Visiting skipper Daryl Mitchell initially fooled the batsmen by coming off 12 paces to bowl at around three miles per hour, but in his second over Collingwood smashed him over mid-wicket for six.
When Pakistani off-spinner Saeed Ajmal, who bowled a tight first over, switched ends Collingwood drove his first ball over the rope at long-on to complete his 50 then MacLeod hit a six over mid-wicket and swept a four to fine leg as 19 came off the over.
In his next over, the 18th, Ajmal bottled up the batsmen with a leg-stump line from around the wicket and in trying to break free Collingwood skied a catch to backward point. He hit five fours and three sixes in his 62 off 37 balls.
There was still time for MacLeod to hit Ajmal for another six over mid-wicket as 15 came off the final over with Muchall making a cameo contribution of 14 off seven balls.
Worcestershire made a swift start with Moeen Ali showing his class in racing to 21 before he swung across the line of Usman Arshad’s first ball in the fifth over and skied a catch to mid-wicket.
Borthwick also struck with his first ball, having Mitchell lbw, and Collingwood might have had a wicket with his second. But Muchall, racing in from long-off, was unable to hang on to a diving effort with Oliver on 37.
Three balls later, however, New Zealand Test player Colin Munro lobbed a catch to short extra cover and with Gareth Breese’s first over costing only three runs Oliver was under pressure.
Once he had holed out Worcestershire ran out of firepower and sacrificed wickets in desperation. They were all out for 144 with one over unused.