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A Warm (and hopefully Dry) Welcome to Durham

By Gerry Wolstenholme

Durham pay their second visit to Blackpool for a County Championship game later this week, 17 to 20 May, since becoming a first-class county in 1992. We welcome their officials, players and supporters and look forward to some fine weather to witness a game that pits fifth-placed Durham, 61 points, against bottom-placed Lancashire, 61 points.

          Durham, newly promoted from Division Two this season, defeated Worcestershire by 185 runs at Chester-le-Street for their one victory with three games drawn and one abandoned. Their leading runscorer is South African David Bedingham with 490 runs, including two centuries, 144 and 138, while Callum Parkinson leads the bowlers with 13 wickets at an average of 46.69. Colin Ackermann, 112, and Matthew Potts, a magnificent 149 not out as nightwatchman, have also made centuries.

          Meanwhile Lancashire have struggled somewhat after, like Durham, having their first game abandoned. Since then they have drawn one and lost three.  Keaton Jennings leads the way with the bat with 343 runs at42.87 with a best of 172 while the only other centurion is up and coming wicketkeeper Matthew Hurst, who made 104 in the defeat by Nottinghamshire. Nathan Lyon leads the bowlers with 112 wickets at 26.91 each with George Balderston, 11, and Will Williams, 10, hot on his heels.

          As for the history between the two clubs, Durham first appeared in Blackpool in August 1908 in a Minor Counties North match when, in a low scoring contest, the visitors won by 27 runs. The north east county returned for Minor County matches in 1922 and 1928. In the first of these games Lancashire Second XI won by nine wickets with Joe Massey, later to play for Blackpool for a number of years, scored 60 while Harry Tyldesley in the first Durham innings took 5-28 and Albert Rhodes took 7-40 in the second innings.

          In 1928 it was a much closer contest with Lancashire coming out the winners by just one run and this after being bowled out for 72 in the first innings and being obliged to follow-on!  Second time around Len Horridge made 63 and future England Test wicketkeeper Bill Farrimond made 70 from an all-out total of 231 Set 111 to win Durham were dismissed for 109 thanks to 5-33 from Frank Rushton.

          It was 75 years later before Durham returned to Blackpool in 2003 for a Second XI Championship game and once again it was a close fought game. Paul Horton’s 70 helped Lancashire to 285 all out to which Durham replied with 220, Gary Keedy taking 5-33. Only Australian Steven Crook, 31, made much headway in the second innings as Lancashire were dismissed for 101, setting Durham a target of 167. But the Lancashire attack, Crook, 4-48, Oliver Newby, 1-40, Keedy 3-32 and Gary Yates, 2-35, restricted Durham to 159 to suffer defeat by seven runs.

          Then came Durham’s first-class debut at Blackpool in 2007 when the scheduled four-day game ended in two days. Durham won the toss, decided to bat and were dismissed for 166 thanks to Glenn Chapple’s magnificent 7-53; only Australian Michael Di Venuto with 78 made any significant contribution. At the close of day one, Lancashire were not much better placed at 137-8 but the following morning Luke Sutton, 66 not out, and Sajid Mahmood, 41, continued their ninth wicket partnership to put on 69 and take Lancashire to 183 all out. Otis Gibson, 8-68 was the destroyer with the second best bowling figures for a visiting bowler at Blackpool [Tommy Mitchell’s 8-33 for Derbyshire in 1933 being the only figures to better that return].

          Durham’s second innings followed the same pattern as the first and only Dale Benkenstein, Lancashire’s current coach, with 77 enabled them to reach 185. The wickets were shared between Mahmood 4-51, Chapple 3-33 and Blackpool’s Steven Croft 3-40. But Lancashire run chase began badly, 7-2 became 44-3 before Stuart Law 82 not out and VVS Laxman, 55 not out, took their side to victory by seven wickets at 169-3 with two days to spare.

Finally, in 2011, Durham Second XI visited to play two T20 games on 31 May. Durham won the first by four wickets; Lancashire 123 all out, Jordan Clark, now with Surrey, top scoring with 33, Durham 126-6, winning off the final ball of their 20 overs. The second game was even more disastrous for Lancashire who were dismissed for 82 in 18.3 overs, Clark once more top scoring, this time with a more modest 26 and Ben Raine taking 3-8. Durham, thanks to 48 off 47 balls by future England opener Mark Stoneman made short work of their target, scoring 86-3 off 14.3 overs.

And so we come up to date with the prospect of an intriguing contest ahead of us. Let us hope for fine weather, a large crowd and some good cricket; ‘Play up! Play up! and play the game!’ as Henry Newbolt wrote in 1892!


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