LANCASHIRE have taken a calculated gamble in their battle against relegation by playing on the pitch used for the recent Test match.
On the evidence of the first morning the game is likely to be over inside two days and the hosts will be lucky to escape censure.
The advantage Durham gained from winning the toss quickly vanished after a 50-run opening stand.
With Ben Stokes on his way from the Oval after again being left out by England, they slumped to 82 for five before reaching lunch on 89 for five.
Although he was not in the squad named yesterday, Durham sent for off-spinner Ryan Buckley after seeing the pitch. They also decided to give Calum MacLeod his first championship appearance at the expense of Gordon Muchall. Paul Coughlin is nominated to stand down for Stokes.
Left-arm spinner Simon Kerrigan came on for the 16th over and his fifth ball turned almost square and kept low.
There were already footmarks outside the left hander’s off stump for him to bowl into and that fifth ball turned too much for his impassioned lbw appeal to be upheld.
In his second over Keaton Jennings twice inside edged just out of backward short leg’s reach and he seemed to decide he had little chance of survival by playing defensively.
In attempting a reverse sweep he gave a bat-pad catch to forward short leg to depart for 26.
Mark Stoneman had already gone for 31, made of 37 balls, when first change bowler Tom Smith had him caught behind with his first ball. Tom Bailey, playing only his second first-class game, had beaten Stoneman a few times but also been hit for several fours as the 50 came up in 12 overs.
Like Jennings, Scott Borthwick seemed to sense he needed to attack Kerrigan and skied a miscued drive to extra cover.
Paul Collingwood went for a duck when he pushed forward and edged a good ball from Smith to the wicketkeeper, then Phil Mustard played back and was lbw to Kerrigan.
MacLeod, batting at seven, survived a sharp chance to short leg on three in partnership with Michael Richardson. Surprisingly, Lancashire had not yet turned to their second spinner, Stephen Parry.