Cameron Steel has conceded that Durham are struggling to combat the difficult batting conditions at Emirates Riverside this season following their Specsavers County Championship Division Two defeat to Northamptonshire.

Steel and his team-mates go to face promotion favourites Warwickshire today after being beaten inside two days at Emirates Riverside due to a poor batting display.

Durham were bowled out for 129 in their first innings and then 133 in their second knock, allowing Northants to canter to a seven-wicket victory.

The opener has admitted that the uncontested toss rule, designed to produce competitive matches, has been working against Durham given the seamer-friendly conditions in the North-East early and late in the campaign.

Steel said: “Personally being put in first does not affect me a great deal. It has been a poor part of this year for us. We’ve rarely down well in the first innings, but that also has something to do with the pitches and the no-toss rule.

“We’re not making excuses, but it is hard to bat here first when it’s gloomy on a late August/early September morning.

“It’s something that we have to work on and find a way through. It’s all part of playing at the Riverside. You know that even the day before that you’re going to be batting first. It is what it is. Maybe the toss rule has to change, but we have to get better at dealing with it.”

Steel scored his fourth half-century of the campaign in the defeat. However, after impressing last season, the 22-year-old has not been able to kick on in the 2018 campaign.

His struggles have epitomised Durham’s efforts with the bat throughout the term, but the opener is hopeful that he can end the season on a high note in the four remaining games.

“I’d describe my season as ordinary,” he said. “I think I’m averaging 26, it’s not the season that you want. Obviously last season is the one that you want every year. It’s getting used to this level again and consolidating everything that you’ve got. Bowlers figure you out a little bit.

“I think they called it second-year syndrome. Things fell into place more in my second innings against Northants, sometimes all you need is one off your legs to get into a rhythm and then it becomes a lot easier from there. I got that in the first couple of overs, they gave me a couple in my area.

“It’s massive for me to use this innings to build momentum to end the season. You can score two hundreds and it turns into a good season statistically. I can definitely get a few more runs and if that goes into a couple of wins with the boys it goes into our rebuilding stage.”