DURHAM will have to bat for their Division One lives on a pitch in its seventh day of use at Old Trafford today.
Trailing by 81 on first innings, they had 18 overs to bat yesterday evening and did well to reach 59-1.
Lancashire predictably had their left-arm spinners on after five overs and Mark Stoneman was fortunate to survive when padding up to Simon Kerrigan’s first over.
But after making 29, a turning ball found his inside edge and he was caught by one of the two short-legs, who both had several optimistic appeals for further catches turned down.
Rather than send in a right-hander to counter the spin threat, Durham stuck to their usual order with Scott Borthwick and Keaton Jennings hanging on grimly.
Six interruptions for rain, which restricted play to 63 overs yesterday, did little to spare Durham from hard labour as Lancashire batted for 131.3 overs to make 421.
The pitch used for the recent three-day Test match continues to hold up well down the middle, but the footmarks outside a lefthander’s off stump have become increasingly worn.
ECB pitch inspector Tony Pigott, who was present on Saturday, declared himself satisfied with the surface.
With four bowlers injured, it didn’t help that off-spinner Ryan Buckley was off the field all weekend after bowling two overs before lunch on Saturday.
His surprise selection resulted from the expectation that the pitch would favour the spinners and, in his absence, Borthwick got through 49 overs. The most he had previously bowled in an innings was 38.2 at Scarborough last year.
Buckley is suffering from a stomach bug which has afflicted a few others; Borthwick apparently vomited prior to his 44th over.
While his health may have been a mitigating factor, the leg-spinner’s figures of 2- 158 reflected the fact that he didn’t hit the rough areas often enough. There were too many full tosses and they don’t tend to turn much.
With two left-handers to bowl at, Durham bowled him from the outset yesterday, even though the new ball was only four overs old.
John Hastings wasn’t used before lunch but proved the most effective in taking 4-78.
Lancashire were content to grind along and, following opener Paul Horton’s 114 off 217 balls on Saturday, Ashwell Prince completed a 199-ball century.
Horton shrugged off an altercation with Ben Stokes, who was annoyed when the opener edged him for two fours. The fact that the second went straight through where third slip should have been begged the question of why he needed a short midwicket and a mid-on.
While Prince’s application suggested dedication to the Red Rose, his eagerness to get off the field when the showers arrived did not.
During one light shower, he was back in the pavilion while the umpires and most of the Durham players were still in the middle.
Prince survived a few scary moments against Borthwick early in his innings, including a very sharp chance to Jennings at short-leg on 20.
But he played with great skill and looked secure.
After slashing the wage bill by a third, there is a suspicion that Durham are still tightening the purse strings.
It may explain why left-arm spinner Max Morley, who has been on a development contract, was not given a chance here, despite being Durham’s leading wickettaker in the Second XI Championship.
On top of the lack of personnel, injuries have meant that bowling resources have been stretched all season, as painfully underlined over the last two days.
On Saturday, Durham surrendered their two remaining wickets in three overs then conceded an opening stand of 138.
They again had a poor morning yesterday as Lancashire added 80 for the loss of one wicket in 20 overs.
Borthwick missed a sharp return chance when Tom Smith drove back a full toss on 17 and the England Lions all-rounder went on to make 44 before he was well caught by Calum MacLeod off Chris Rushworth.
Stephen Parry, who at 28 is playing only his eighth first-class game, made a career- best 37 before edging an attempted hook to Phil Mustard off Hastings.
Prince had moved on from his overnight 58 to 83 when the heaviest shower arrived at 2.50pm.
When play resumed Prince pulled Borthwick for his 12th four to reach his hundred, but on 106 he drove at Hastings and got an inside edge into his stumps.
Stokes yorked Glen Chapple (21) to wrap up the innings, but Durham gained only two bowling points.
The best they can hope for is a further five for the draw.
At Emirates Old Trafford.
Overnight: Durham 340 (C S MacLeod
84, J W Hastings 83; T C Smith 5-45,S
C Kerrigan 4-86). Lancashire 256-5 (P J
Horton 114, A G Prince 58 no).
Lancashire First Innings
A G Prince b Hastings ........................106
T C Smith c MacLeod b Rushworth...44
S D Parry c Mustard b Hastings ......... 37
G Chapple b Stokes.............................. 21
T E Bailey c Mustard b Hastings ........ 10
S C Kerrigan not out................................ 0
Extras (b4 lb12 nb4 pens 5)25
Total (131.3 overs)............ 426
Fall: 1-138 2-142 3-174 4-196 5-254
6-316 7-380 8-393 9-417
Rushworth 27-5-72-2. Hastings 28-9-78-
4. Borthwick 49-6-158-2. Stokes 24.3-
2-83-2. Buckley 2-0-9-0. Collingwood
Durham Second Innings Close
M D Stoneman c Croft b Kerrigan......29
K K Jennings not out ............................. 17
S G Borthwick not out ............................ 5
Extras (lb3 pens 5) ................ 8
Total 1 wkt (18 overs) .........59
To Bat: M J Richardson, P D Collingwood,
P Mustard, C S MacLeod, J W
Hastings, R S Buckley, P Couglin, C
Rushworth, B A Stokes.Chapple 4-1-
11-0. Bailey 2-0-17-0. Kerrigan 7-1-14-1.
Parry 4-0-9-0. Croft 1-1-0-0.