A WEALTH of runs for the batsmen, wickets for all frontline bowlers and an overwhelmingly positive result – the past three days couldn’t have gone much better for Durham.
By coach Jon Lewis’s own admission: “It’s difficult to see how we could have got much more.”
Winning is good and breeds confidence, which is always important, but we managed to hold standards really high for three daysJON LEWIS
For all their efforts, Durham MCCU couldn’t live with the quality of their professional opponents as Durham ran out winners by 349 runs at the Emirates Durham ICG.
The margin of victory was unsurprising and while the visitors never looked likely to cause an extraordinary upset, their defiance on the final day will serve Durham well in the long run.
But more importantly for Lewis, all aspects of the side have been given an extensive workout ahead of Sunday’s County Championship opener at Somerset.
“Winning is good and breeds confidence, which is always important, but we managed to hold standards really high for three days,” he said.
“It’s easy when the game doesn’t quite have that competitive edge of a Championship match, in the field you can just drop off a bit, but I thought our we were very good.
“The surface made it a decent game of cricket, the students fought hard so credit to them for that and they made the work hard for us.”
With so little match practice before Sunday, Lewis conceded this would probably be the starting XI at Taunton.
“When you’ve got the one warm-up before your Championship game, you kind of have to pick the XI you think will play.”
It would have been little benefit to Lewis’s side had the students rolled over and waved the white flag.
There was to be no repeat of 18 all out, as happened in this same fixture three years ago, as the opening pair of Charlie MacDonnell and Robert Gibson decided the best form of defence was attack.
MacDonnell, in particular, produced a string of sumptuous strokes, taking 12 off one Chris Rushworth over, but his dismissal to Scott Borthwick ended a 62-run opening stand and started a collapse as wickets tumbled with regularity.
Paul Coughlin, despite looking in some discomfort, induced an edge from Gibson that Michael Richardson grasped at third slip.
The 22-year-old returned for a second spell and Lewis was confident there were no lasting effects: “He looks like he’s hanging onto something when actually he feels perfectly fine.”
Rushworth uprooted stumps in seeing off Chaitanya Bishnoi and Cameron Steel, while there was more success for Borthwick as the university side lost 5 for 33.
A mini-revival ensued as Oliver Steele and Dimitri Ratyanake put on a 49-run stand but once their resistance ended, both caught at short leg by Keaton Jennings within six balls, the game was all-but over.
Australian John Hastings got his first wicket of the match thanks to Paul Collingwood’s magnificent one-handed catch at slip before Borthwick’s fourth of the day ended the game.
Collingwood elected not to declare overnight on 216-5, giving Calum Macleod and the accompanying lower order some time at the crease.
They added 44 runs, setting a victory target of 550, with Macleod remained unbeaten on 43 – the Scot will be pleased with his contribution over two innings.