Tough going

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

DURHAM’S bowlers struggled this morning on another Riverside pitch which appears to be flattening as the game progresses.

With 19-year-old Alex Davies, from Darwen, on 41 not out, Lancashire reached 82 for one at lunch in reply to 338.

As well as flatter pitches, another reason why Durham have been unable to take 20 wickets this season has been inferior slip catching and Davies was missed on 20 by Paul Collingwood off John Hastings.

Durham’s overnight pair needed only three balls to pick up the two runs they needed to break the county’s ninth-wicket partnership record.

Phil Mustard pushed the first ball wide of gully then called Paul Coughlin through for a sharp single when the youngster inside-edged into the leg side, taking the stand to 128.

Resuming on 71, Coughlin struggled to locate the middle of the bat. A thick edge for three off Tom Smith took him to 80 then he edged Kyle Hogg just short of the slips.

He even picked up a run for an overthrow, resulting from sloppy fielding, but departed for 85, the highest score by a Durham player on his championship debut since Nicky Peng made 98 against Surrey in 2000.

The stand was worth 150 when Coughlin pushed forward to a ball from Smith which left him to trim the off stump and after Chris Rushworth drove a four wide of mid off Mustard decided not to trust his cousin.

Having shown remarkable patience in scoring 70 off 167 balls he went down the pitch to the next one, swung wildly across the line and edged to Jos Buttler, giving Hogg his sixth wicket.

The Lancashire openers looked reasonably comfortable against Rushworth and Hastings, although the Australian looked unlucky to have an lbw appeal against Paul Horton turned down by George Sharp.

It wasn’t costly because, without addition, Horton looked aggrieved to be adjudged lbw by Martin Bodenham when trying to work Rushworth through mid-wicket.

That brought in Australian Test left-hander Usman Khawaja on his Lancashire debut and on two he edged Ben Stokes’ second ball for four. He progressed to 19 at lunch.

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