DURHAM again face successive Twenty20 matches at Edgbaston this evening and Worcester tomorrow after a win and a defeat in last week’s last-ball finishes.
Two wins out of three in the NatWest T20 Blast prior to this week’s arrival of Australian John Hastings is a satisfactory start, but losing to Lancashire was a clear case of snatching defeat from the jaws of victory.
In both matches Durham totalled 132, which would normally be at least 20 below par but has been in keeping with the rest of the country on rainaffected pitches.
Batting second at home to Lancashire, Durham were cruising when they needed 37 off the last six overs with seven wickets standing. But after losing four wickets quickly they still required four off the last ball and lost by one run.
The following evening it was hosts Nottinghamshire who needed four off the last ball, which young Sam Wood drove into the hands of Ben Stokes to give Durham a three-run win.
It was an excellent last over by Chris Rushworth, in which he conceded twos off the first two balls and only one run thereafter.
Wood had driven the last ball of the previous over for six off Usman Arshad and Durham recalled Rushworth, despite Stokes having taken a crucial wicket in the 18th over, the only one he bowled.
Durham’s own innings had stuttered badly after they reached 50 for two in the opening six overs of powerplay, which proved crucial as Nottinghamshire limped to 24 for three in the same period.
On the ground where he scored a majestic 158 not out a few days earlier, Gordon Muchall injected some momentum into Durham’s stuttering innings, hitting two big sixes in top-scoring with 31 not out.
Although Arshad opened up with a maiden – a real rarity in T20 cricket – and Gareth Breese’s first three overs cost only nine runs, Rushworth was the pick of the bowlers with three for 19.
When he nipped one back to bowl England T20 opener Alex Hales for five then James Taylor middled a sweep straight into the hands of square leg, Durham’s total began to look defendable.
Another dangerous duo, Michael Lumb and Samit Patel, both skied catches to deep midwicket, and although Nottinghamshire made them sweat Durham were able to hang on.