Durham can call on Stokes

FULL STRENGTH: Durham will have the benefit of Ben Stokes who was overlooked for England

FULL STRENGTH: Durham will have the benefit of Ben Stokes who was overlooked for England

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

DURHAM hope to have almost a full squad to choose from by the time they resume on Sunday after licking their wounds during a week off.

It is expected that Ben Stokes and Paul Collingwood will be available for the championship match at home to Lancashire, but Graham Onions will need some second team cricket before a return to senior action.

Stokes was surprisingly left out of the England squad for the first Test against Sri Lanka, while Onions has been out for a month with a back injury and Collingwood missed the second of last weekend’s two Twenty20 defeats with a damaged finger.

The four-day captain was struck on the right index finger during his final over at Edgbaston on Friday and was ruled out at Worcester the following day.

He had a scan on Monday, which revealed no break.

Having gone into those games with two wins from three, the setback at Worcester – in a rainreduced 13-overs-a-side match – was hard to take after a muchimproved performance following the six-wicket defeat by Warwickshire.

There are still nine group games left and Durham will be looking for improvement from their one-day opening pair of Mark Stoneman and Phil Mustard.

In five innings they have totalled 38 and 54 respectively, while No 3 batsman Calum MacLeod has scored 208 runs at an average of 69. Gordon Muchall has scored 95 runs and been dismissed only once.

Durham were around 20 short of a par score in making 146 for seven at Edgbaston and the hosts got home with five balls to spare in front of a crowd of around 6,000.

Having lost the toss, the batting lacked momentum after the openers got themselves out.

MacLeod made 27 from 26 balls before being stumped, charging at Jeetan Patel in the Kiwi offspinner’s second over.

With a halfway score of 62 for three, Durham urgently needed a rapid acceleration but as soon as Scott Borthwick and Collingwood broke free with mid-wicket sixes, the side crumpled as three wickets fell in four balls.

Collingwood found deep midwicket off Boyd Rankin then the giant bowler ran out Borthwick with a swift pick-up in his followthrough.

When Patel followed that by bowling a tentative Stokes, only some serious clubbing by John Hastings kept Durham in contention.

The Australian cracked 36 but Varun Chopra’s 51 off 50 balls set Warwickshire on their way.

After rain forced a delayed start Worceser, Durham looked certain to defend their 13-over total of 105 for three when Usman Arshad started with nine dot balls and never conceded more than a single in three overs for ten runs.

With three overs to go, victory was in their grasp but the last 11 deliveries from the Diglis End cost 36 runs.

Hastings bowled a no-ball, which resulted in a six from the free hit, and when Chris Rushworth was given the ball for the final over, Worcestershire still needed 15.

The home side had two of their cleanest hitters, both left handers, at the crease and Gareth Andrew, returning after a month off through injury, hit the first two balls for six and four.

He then gave Stokes his third catch of the innings in trying to clear long-on, but the batsmen had crossed and Ross Whiteley smashed his third six to take the man of the match prize for his 25 from 14 balls.

When Durham batted first after losing the toss, Stoneman and Mustard fell to the first two balls from Chris Russell but MacLeod followed his unbeaten 80 in the home win against Worcestershire on his debut with 43 not out.

Stokes briefly overshadowed the Scot with a brisk 24 until caught at long-on, but MacLeod then took over with three sixes while putting on72 with Muchall.

Stokes volunteered to play for the second XI this week in an attempt to prove his fitness for an international recall.Left out of the 12-man Test squad because of a lack of bowling since returning to action following his wrist injury, Stokes phoned national selector James Whitaker to inquire whether playing against Warwickshire’s second string would be considered part of his recuperation.

Stokes was overlooked despite playing twice and claiming five wickets for 161 runs across 37 overs since returning from his self-inflicted lay-off. In contrast, wicketkeeper Matt Prior was picked after one first-class appearance behind the stumps since being dropped during the tour of Australia.

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