JUST when Durham thought they had ridden the storm this morning Ajmal Shahzad took two wickets in his first two overs.
After surviving Test-class bowling from Stuart Broad and Peter Siddle, Mark Stoneman was caught behind for 23 with the total on 39, then Michael Richardson was bowled for four.
But Gordon Muchall emerged to play like the one-day batsman he has somehow become, scoring 24 off 20 balls, as Durham reached 78 for two at lunch with Keaton Jennings also on 24. The break was brought forward by five minutes by the morning’s second shower.
Shahzad seems to strut around with an even greater swagger than when he fell out with Yorkshire, which is surprising for someone whose potential international future has faded.
Unlike the new ball pair, he went round the wicket to the left-handers and his third ball swung in slightly then straightened off the pitch to take the edge.
Richardson merely leant into the next ball, but timed it so well it beat the cover fielder and went for four.
But without addition he played back in Shahzad’s next over and, looking uncertain whether to play at a ball which skidded on to him, he got an inside edge into his off stump.
Although it barely seemed necessary, the floodlights were on at 11.15 and shortly afterwards there was a ten-minute break for rain.
At least it gave Jennings the chance to recover fully from being hit on the helmet by Siddle, who looked aggrieved to have three fairly ludicrous appeals turned down. After the third, for lbw with the ball swinging down the leg side, he had a jocular exchange with umpire Neil Bainton.
Later, when fielding at mid-on, he appeared to be spoken to by the other umpire, Neil Mallender, presumably for leading the protests when Jennings survived an appeal for caught behind off Andre Adams on 23. It was an excellent ball and there was clear deviation, but Jennings indicated it brushed his upper arm.
Siddle certainly posed a threat, however, and the Durham pair did well to survive as both he and Broad swung the ball into the left-handers.
Stoneman clipped one such delivery from Broad sweetly to the square leg boundary and another in front of mid-wicket for four, while Jennings concentrated on survival.
He had made three when he on-drove Siddle for four in the 12th over and was beginning to look comfortable when, on 19, he survived an edged chance off Adams.
Muchall played lovely shots from the outset, although he might not have been fully in control of the four he guided just wide of second slip off Shahzad. The next ball was driven imperiously through extra cover and he cut Adams for another boundary just before the break.