AS A microcosm of Durham’s season, the promising victory followed by farcical defeat this week seemed pretty apt.
Durham’s first 50 over win of the season against Warwickshire came with a rare foray into to an outground, as the journey outside of the county took them to South Northumberland’s ground in Newcastle.
While there had been scepticism in some quarters as to whether a substantially smaller ground than the Riverside could cope; the game whole event was a pleasant and entertaining break from the norm.
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On a good wicket which gave encouragement to batsmen and bowlers alike, fears of previous nightmares at grounds such Stockton were banished and returning to outgrounds of a similar standards would certainly not go amiss for these midweek 50 over games.
Warwickshire had initially looked like taking the game well away from Durham with a gloriously controlled century from Jonathan Trott.
Seeing Trott in this kind of from should have warmed hearts of even the most ardent Durham fan and regardless of whether he ever feels capable of playing for England again, he’s a much undervalued class talent.
Their slump however came after John Hastings’ maiden five-for, where Warwickshire managed to go from 213/2 to 264 all out.
Mark Stoneman thankfully looked to have at least partly arrested his slide in form with the white ball and the bulk of the work was done by some controlled batting by Phil Mustard and Calum Macleod at the top of the order.
But the real star of the show was Paul Collingwood, for whom taking centre stage in a celebration of wider North East cricket seemed fitting.
This new found lease of life in limited overs cricket should, hopefully, be enough to persuade him that he’s still got more than enough to offer the side, as most are desperate for him to stay on.
That desperation was only magnified by the shambolic loss to Sussex.
While the batting performance lost a little momentum in the closing overs, this should still have been a score of which Durham were capable of defending.
Indeed at 191/7, the target of 288 should have been well beyond Sussex with eight and nine at the crease but Durham have picked up an unerring knack of being unable to close games out.
Much of the criticism will be focused on Mark Stoneman’s reluctance to go for the kill and to allow Yasir Arafat and Will Beer to ease their way back into the game.
But just as it was too simplistic to point the finger solely at Alistair Cook with England, so he needs help from his inconsistent senior bowlers.
While Graham Onions is undoubtedly feeling his way back into first team cricket after a disrupted few months through injury, having him bowl a long spell up front, even when he’s demonstrably bowling poorly, must be a result of not allowing his back to seize up in the outfield, rather than presumably something Stoneman thinks is working well.
Chris Rushworth and especially John Hastings failed to help matters by bowling in a panicked manner when the game started to get away from them.
The decision to take Scott Borthwick out of the attack when he had found his rhythm, also seemed questionable to say the least.
Realistically, Durham now need to win their remaining four games to get out of the group and while three are at home, this seems an almighty ask.
The County Championship game against Lancashire seems ever more important with each passing limited overs game and the occasional bright performance aside, the momentum seems starkly against them.