Muchall takes his chance

TIME TO RESPOND: England head coach Peter Moores talks with his players ahead of today’s ODI with Sri Lanka at Old Trafford

TIME TO RESPOND: England head coach Peter Moores talks with his players ahead of today’s ODI with Sri Lanka at Old Trafford

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

TO play at all was a tale of the unexpected for Durham yesterday; for Gordon Muchall to reach 158 not out and help to bag three batting points was a huge bonus.

The forecast was for buckets of rain, but instead we had a torrent of runs as Muchall, a forgotten man in four-day cricket, rediscovered his majestic best.

There were a few fierce cuts and pulls, but most of his strokes were effortlessly timed to perfection and he received excellent support from Ben Stokes and Paul Collingwood in taking Durham to 335 for four.

After losing more than a full day, they still trail Nottinghamshire by 42 and will not be able to push for victory on the final day with more rain expected. But yesterday’s addition of 257 in 56 overs provided a big boost to morale.

Play began at 1.30 with the floodlights on, although Durham’s sparkling batting was enough to lift the gloom with Stokes showing exactly why he won’t be available to Durham much longer.

He contributed 61 to a stand of 133 in 29 overs before holing out at long-on, then Collingwood took up the cudgels in scoring a sprightly unbeaten 36.

When Muchall bats like this it is impossible to understand why he has had such a stop-start first-class career.

In stroking his way to an imperious century off 102 balls he looked every inch the high-class batsman he threatened to be when making his maiden hundred at Lord’s 12 years ago, aged 19.

Since making 175 at Worcester three years ago he had a top championship score of 55 and didn’t make any four-day appearances last season.

His transformation into a one-day player seemed to be confirmed under the terms of his new contract for this season, but injuries have given him this opportunity and he seized it superbly.

“The way the contract was worded left the door open for me and I did enough in early season to stake a claim,” he said. “I’m treating it as a bonus and trying to clear my mind so that I don’t have the pressure of seeing it as the last chance saloon. I’m just trying to enjoy every minute as much as I can.”

Having reached 24 off 20 balls when play was washed out at lunchtime on Monday, he hit the second ball he faced from Stuart Broad to the cover boundary off the back foot yesterday.

He had to defend well against Broad, who beat him a few times, and Peter Siddle, but was never afraid to look for scoring opportunities.

When Ajmal Shahzad came on Muchall took 14 off his first over. An on-drive for two was followed by two steers to the third man boundary and a hook to long leg to reach 50 off 48 balls.

Andre Adams’ first ball was cut fiercely for four by Muchall before the New Zealander had Keaton Jennings caught behind for a resolute 40.

Stokes almost casually worked his first ball through mid-wicket for four and other than a couple of slightly streaky shots he looked very solid in a high-quality stand.

After reaching 80 off 71 balls Muchall was briefly becalmed and gave his only chance on 86 when an edged cut off Siddle flew very fast to Riki Wessels, who was unable to hang on at first slip.

On 90 he advanced to loft Samit Patel effortlessly over long-on for six then pulled the next ball for his 17th four to complete his 12th firstclass hundred.

Runs were really flowing at that point and when Nottinghamshire turned to the medium pace of Steven Mullaney he was treated almost disdainfully by Stokes, who took 14 off his first over.

He then off-drove Patel for four to reach a 67-ball halfcentury before driving the left-arm spinner to long-on, where Michael Lumb held a good catch.

Collingwood had made only two when he drove Patel through extra cover for four then clobbered the next ball for six over mid-wicket.

Shortly after 5pm the umpires decided, as the rules demand, that even though the floodlights were on the natural light wasn’t good enough.

Play resumed for three overs with the new ball, during which Collingwood clattered Broad to the cover boundary off the back foot.

Then the light faded again, but there would be plenty to smile about in the Durham dressing room.

Scoreboards

Nottinghamshire v Durham
At Trent Bridge.
Overnight: Nottinghamshire 377 (S R Patel 99, J W A Taylor 88, C M WRead 59 no). Durham 78-2.
Durham First Innings Close
K K Jennings c Read b Adams............40
G J Muchall not out..............................158
B A Stokes c Lumb b S R Patel .......... 61
P D Collingwood not out ......................36
Extras (b6 lb1 nb6) ............. 13
Total 4 wkts (83 overs) .... 335
Fall: 1-39 2-47 3-131 4-264
To Bat: P Mustard, G R Breese, Usman Arshad, C Rushworth, G T Main.
Boiwling: Broad 16-0-68-0. Siddle 17-7-38-0. Adams 17-2-73-1. Shahzad 12-2-52-2. S R Patel 17-2-69-1. Mullaney 4-0-28-0.

Yorkshire v Lancashire
At Headingley Carnegie.
Overnight: Lancashire 325 (P J Horton 66, T C Smith 54; J A Brooks5-90, L E Plunkett 4-74). Yorkshire 29-0.
Yorkshire First Innings
A Lyth c Reece b Smith.........................50
A Z Lees c Davies b Smith................... 21
K S Williamson c Croft b Smith ............ 4
A W Gale not out ...................................95
J M Bairstow lbw b Hogg .....................20
A U Rashid c Davies b Smith............... 12
A J Hodd b Kabir Ali ................................ 0
T T Bresnan c Horton b Kabir Ali.......... 1
L E Plunkett lbw b Smith....................... 12
R J Sidebottom c Smith b Kerrigan...... 9
J A Brooks c & b Chapple ...................... 0
Extras (b2 lb8 w3 nb6)....... 19
Total (71 overs).................. 243
Fall: 1-66 2-82 3-97 4-136 5-178 6-1797-183 8-196 9-234
Did Not Bat: S A Patterson.
Bowling: Hogg 15-2-69-1. Chapple 20-6-56-1. Kabir Ali 15-4-35-2. Smith 13-3-49-5. Kerrigan 8-0-24-1.
Lancashire Second Innings Close
P J Horton c Lyth b Bresnan.................. 6
L M Reece lbw b Bresnan.................... 10
K R Brown lbw b Bresnan...................... 0
S J Croft not out .....................................23
T C Smith not out ..................................... 5
Extras (b4)............................... 4
Total 3 wkts (17 overs)........48
Fall: 1-10 2-10 3-31
To Bat: A G Prince, A L Davies, G Chapple, K W Hogg, Kabir Ali, S C Kerrigan.
Bowling: Bresnan 7-3-9-3. Brooks 4-0-11-0. Plunkett 2-0-15-0. A U Rashid 2-0-4-0. Williamson 2-1-5-0.

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