After the heroics last week there was a buzz around following Durham into this week’s Championship clash at Derby. Even with Chris Rushworth and Barry McCarthy ruled out, being able to call on Mark Wood again was excellent news whilst new loan signing Joe Dixon was at least another body. At the rate our fast bowlers are going it might be for the best if he has some friends on speed dial.

I love Paul Collingwood and there’s nothing I can tell him about cricket. However, for the second week in a row he won the toss and put the opposition in only for them to rack up a 100+ partnership and leaves us chasing our tails. With Wood making little impact it was left to veteran Rimmington and last week’s hero Weighell to remove the openers, however Derby closed on 301/4 and with Wood wicket-less, the decision to field looked very questionable indeed.

Durham have made a habit of fighting back though and the captain himself took two wickets, as did the unlikely figure of Cameron Steel to help dismiss Derbyshire for 427. Wood did manage to take one wicket but this was merely a warm up for later in the contest.

With Markram playing the final game of his…indifferent spell he looked well set to forge another good opening partnership with Steel only to be caught behind on 30. When Will Smith followed 2 balls later it looked like another great collapse was on the horizon but Steel dug in for 31 whilst Graham Clark scored 63 – another important contribution. With no major scores though Durham found themselves 175/5, still well short of even the follow on target and with Michael Richardson and Stuart Poynter at the crease it didn’t look like there was a great deal of hope.

All season I have questioned why we are essentially playing two wicket keepers and given that the top score between the pair of them was a mighty 17 it speaks volumes about the lack of quality batting options in the Durham ranks right now. In this, the season of surprises, the pair racked up a partnership of 278 – Durham’s record for the 6th wicket – and in the process overhauled Derbyshire’s total to give Durham a real foothold in the match. Poynter scored 170, more than the entire Ireland team managed on their test debut, although I am very grateful he avoided a call up on this form. Richardson departed soon after for 115 as Durham racked up 520, knowing that quick wickets could lead to an unlikely victory.

With just a day left it was always going to be an uphill struggle and that task was made harder as an ill Nathan Rimmington was only able to bowl 10 overs having managed just 13 in the first innings. Still, Wood had his mojo back and removed the top 3 to leave Derby on 97/3 and when Steel had Hughes caught behind, 114/4 was a net 17/4 and the Dynamos could sense an opportunity. Although Wood would return later in the innings to remove 3 of the tail, Derbyshire held on and with an hour to play, the captains shook hands. The tail had wagged sufficiently and with the last wicket partnership unbroken on 37, it turned out to be a frustrating final day for Durham.

This was the last Championship action for a little while as attention turns to the One Day cup. It’s a reasonable time for a break as the injury list is mounting and Rushworth in particular needs time. It’ll be interesting to see if Mark Wood makes the England squad, he certainly did his chances no harm with that 6 wicket burst. Tom Latham will be back to captain the side and I wouldn’t be surprised if Collingwood sits at least a couple of games out, but he loves the game so much he’d probably rather be out there.

So another week and another unlikely hero, if we could just make the right decision on a toss we might actually be ahead in a game for a change. I’ll be back next week with some musings on the one day games, bye for now.