FOR one who only a year ago was elevated from eight to three in the batting order, Scott Borthwick this week earned a remarkable double entry in the Durham record books.
The 24-year-old leg-spinning all-rounder from Sunderland became the first Englishman to score a double century for Durham on home soil and shared the county’s record second-wicket partnership with Mark Stoneman.
In putting on 274 against leaders Middlesex they beat the record of 258 held by current coach Jon Lewis and Australian Martin Love since the visit of Nottinghamshire in 2001.
Borthwick made 216 and Stoneman 187 as Durham amassed 568 for nine declared, having reached their highest first-day total in a championship match of 411 for four.
After missing last week’s match at Trent Bridge with two minor fractures on fingers of his right hand, Borthwick said: “I’m not in any pain and will be able to bowl. I’m not going to get in the England team just for my batting.”
He played in the last Test in Sydney in December and was watched on the first day this week by national selector James Whitaker, who was also running the rule over Ben Stokes.
But the other Durham player who might have been in Test contention this summer, Graham Onions, had his comeback from a back injury postponed again. It was hoped he would play for the second team on Tuesday, but he continues to be assessed and the target is the next championship game at home to Lancashire on June 15.
The strapping Australian, John Hastings, made a good impression on his debut for Durham and with Mark Wood taking four for 75 they dismissed Middlesex for 330 and enforced the follow-on.
The visitors were 90 for two at the close of the third day, still 148 behind, but no play was possible on the final day.
As Durham continue to be thwarted in their search for a first four-day win of the season, the fact that they are playing on flatter pitches this season is not helping.
Middlesex’s decision to put Durham in on a sunny morning was a surprise considering that Yorkshire scored 589 for eight in the last game at Riverside.
Stoneman survived a straightforward chance to first slip on seven then raced to 50 off 47 balls, cutting several of his ten fours as the bowlers regularly dropped short. He was on 94 at lunch and reached his century off 105 balls shortly afterwards, compared with 132 for Borthwick, whose previous best was 135 at home to Surrey last year.
He was on 164 at the close of the first day and had to work hard the following morning as the second day proved the most helpful for the bowlers.
It was 95 minutes into the day’s play when Borthwick edged left-arm spinner Ravi Patel wide of slip for the two runs which took him to 200 off 293 balls. He celebrated with gusto but, trying to accelerate just before lunch, he skied a catch to mid-wicket.
Hastings, who flew in on Saturday after kicking his heels for six weeks as a member of the Chennai Superkings squad in the IPL hammered an unbeaten 38 off 25 balls.
He then forced his Australian pal, Test opener Chris Rogers, to play on in his second over and Middlesex were 69 for four when rain washed out the final session on the second day.
Although there some fine catches with Michael Richardson holding three and Keaton Jennings two, the third day was one of toil for Durham as the pitch became more lifeless.
Hopes were high when Rogers fell for one for the second time, lbw to Chris Rushworth in the third over.
But Durham were frustrated and are unlikely to see any more of Stokes, despite making only 23 and taking two wickets in this match.