Around The Wicket: Injuries have not helped Durham's start

Day four of Durham's LV= County Championship match against Somerset

Day four of Durham's LV= County Championship match against Somerset

First published in Sport
Last updated

Another week, another draw.

While there were many positives from the most recent draw away at Nottinghamshire after the previous week’s hammering away at Somerset, it did little to alter the rather disjointed feel the summer has had so far.

The weather has been the main culprit but the slew of injuries has done little to help.

The Somerset game in which Durham finally lost their perhaps undeserved unbeaten record also accounted for the fitness of the bulk of the bowling attack with injuries to Mark Wood, Jamie Harrison and Scott Borthwick.

This undoubtedly prevented them from making much of a game of it in the fourth innings but in reality the damage had been done by the appalling batting display in the first.

The impressive Michael Richardson aside, there’s been a lack of consistency in Durham batting with Phil Mustard’s form the biggest concern.

Undoubtedly there has been wavering on the decision to move him up to five, as demonstrated with his move back to seven at Nottinghamshire and you suspect this may at least be a medium term move with the startling return to form of Gordon Muchall.

You would’ve got long odds on both Muchall and Gareth Breese starting a Championship game together again after several years in the wilderness, yet there they were at Nottinghamshire providing much needed experience to a side increasingly reliant on inexperienced academy graduates.

Muchall’s 158 not out looked far more like the limited overs innings he’s played over recent years and perhaps in the latter stages of his career this may signal a reinvention.

With Ben Stokes’ return likely to be fleeting, Muchall could now move into that number five position for the foreseeable future to allow Mustard a move back down the order.

The silver lining to the injuries in the bowling department was a promising if perhaps premature debut for young Scot Gavin Main.

While this first spell was erratic and he was taken to task by Samit Patel and James Taylor, he improved as the innings went on and his three wickets will give Durham much encouragement in the long term, rather than as a regular option now.

All of this came after the sight of Usman Arshad sharing the new ball, which will have been cause enough for concern, as in an ideal world he would come on as second change.

Thankfully, overseas signing John Hastings’ arrival grows closer, which will be a relief with Graham Onions still without a return date and Jamie Harrison looking likely to be out for a more prolonged period of time.

His ability to bat at eight, although we can presume the original intention had been for him to bat at seven before Mustard’s loss of form, will add some extra solidity to the batting and much needed experience to the current revolving door of bowlers.

None of this is helped by what seems to be an even more relentless fixture calendar this summer.

The sheer farce of Durham having left Trent Bridge on Wednesday, to charge home for the T20 game against Lancashire, only to get back on the bus and head back from where they came, smacks of shoddy planning to say the least.

Quite who will be left standing of the bowlers, come a welcome return home to face Middlesex in the Championship, remains to be seen but there’s no doubting Durham need wins out of the run of three home Championship games.

The wafer-thin squad may keep finding ways to inspire performances from young and old alike but this can’t be expected to last.

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