The eagle eyed among you will notice the irony in the title “Dynamos Weekly” when there hasn’t been an update for about two weeks. You can blame the Northampton weather for that one, when all four days are washed out even the most imaginative of column writers would have little to say, so imagine how blank my page was.
Back in the far sunnier Chester-le-Street, Durham welcomed Leicestershire for the latest four day fun. With the way matches have gone around the country lately even getting to a fourth day would be an achievement and at one point it looked a bit dicey, but with just 15 overs (ish) to spare, this match finally came to a conclusion. And what a conclusion.
It’s a rarity these days but such were the conditions a toss was contested and even more surprisingly, Durham won it. Paul Collingwood knows the Riverside better than anyone but putting Leicestershire in to bat looked a questionable decision as their opening partnership neared 150. Durham had recalled Irishman Barry McCarthy for Matty Potts in one of two changes, with McCarthy takes 3-72 to be the pick of the fledgling bowling attack as the visitors racked up 440.
The other change saw the return of Cameron Steel, who missed the first game due to illness. Keen to prove he was just like his teammates he departed for a 3 ball duck, a worrying sign of things to come. You may remember “star” overseas player Aiden Markram celebrated his debut with a pair of ducks and he was keen to prove that was no fluke by going for a third consecutive duck here. To rub salt into a pretty gaping wound it was former Durham man Ben Raine who clean bowled him. I’m sure Raine was considered a batting prospect in his time at Durham, but here he is sharing the new ball with Varun Aaron. Raine also claimed the wickets of Will Smith and the skipper to leave Durham on 14-4, which slightly improved to 51-6. The follow on was waiting.
It was at least heartening to see Graham Clark get 64 to show that a fairly lifeless track wasn’t exactly a minefield to bat on and with the support of James Weighell (29) and Nathan Rimmington (23) the score crept up to 184 all out. Still a deficit of 256 though and with the best part of two days still to negotiate, focus turned to avoiding a three day defeat.
I like to think all struggling sides have a turning point. A time where some harsh realities are faced and it proves to be the time we all look back on and say “remember when we were so shite we nearly lost inside 3 days to a Leicestershire side who haven’t won in 18 Championship games haha” so with that echoing through their ears, Markram remembered he is an International batsman and marched to the highest score of his Durham career. Yes, it isn’t hard to pass 0 but his 94 set Durham off towards a remarkable result. Ably supported by Steel (86) and Smith (74), Durham reached 323-3 on the morning of day 4. The great escape was surely on!
So why were Leicestershire’s opening pair back at the crease by 4pm, chasing 148 to win? Because Durham. That’s why. A collapse that saw us to 403 all out was not the plan but in a strange way, it was exactly what was needed.
With former England man Michael Carberry opening Leicestershire were in good hands, however his teammates started to wilt in the North East heat. Chris Rushworth has carried Durham in recent years and his 3 wicket burst put Leicestershire on the back foot, but also put himself on the treatment table. A groin injury was given as the reason for his departure 2 balls into his 8th over – he didn’t return but his figures of 3-12 showed what a huge contribution he had made.
If anything though that made space for my new hero. James Weighell had made useful contributions with the bat in both innings and managed two wickets in the marathon first knock but here he tore through the remaining batsmen, claiming 7-32 as the Foxes were dismissed for just 101, handing Durham an unlikely win. It is in fact the first time in our first class history we’ve won after following on. A lovely time in the sun. Eventually.
After all this club has been through in recent years it is heartening to see that the fighting spirit is still there, even if the supporting cast has changed. New heroes such as Weighell emerging from our own academy can only be good news and as long as he doesn’t go the same way as Coughlin, the future can still be bright. With any young players you have to expect inconsistency but who’s to say this isn’t the season for Cameron Steel, James Weighell and Graham Clark to make names for themselves? Momentum is everything.
It’s Derbyshire away next, they’ve just taken a beating off Warwickshire like a few probably will this season but they beat Middlesex at the start of the season, so who knows. That starts on Friday, down at Derby, so hopefully there’s more nice weather as if you can take anything from the Leicestershire game it’s that the 4 day game is still very much alive and kicking.
I’ll be back next week with the run down on that but for now, let’s all hope Chris Rushworth’s groin is ok. If you know what I mean.