Newspaper article The Journal (Newcastle, England)

Durham Batsmen Again a Letdown

Newspaper article The Journal (Newcastle, England)

Durham Batsmen Again a Letdown

Article excerpt

Byline: By Luke Edwards

Durham's top order batsmen failed for the second time in as many days, to leave their opening Frizzell County Championship game of the season against Somerset delicately balanced last night.

Durham's dangerous- looking bowling attack had dragged them back into the game after the day's first session had been lost for rain with an excellent display, before mistakes with the bat allowed Somerset to hang on to hopes of victory for themselves.

The bowlers had already started to do some damage the previous evening, reducing Somerset from 91 without loss to 125-5 at the close and led by Indian Javagal Srinath and Stephen Harmison, they set about mopping up the tail in ruthless fashion after lunch.

Srinath bowled James Bryant with just five added to the overnight score, before Harmison's in-swinging yorker smashed through Keith Dutch's defence. The England man also accounted for Aaron Laraman and Nixon McLean to reaffirm his international credentials, while Gary Pratt's smart work in the field forced Richard Johnson into a run-out.

Durham's attack performed so well they even gave their batsmen an unexpected lead of 14 to take into the second innings. But Somerset were quickly back in it, while Durham only have poor strokes and not the pitch to blame for their problems.

Nicky Peng's dismissal was indicative of their shortcomings, the youngster throwing away his wicket with the sort of careless abandon which could yet cost his side victory.

The 20-year-old, who was selected for the England Academy side two winters ago, is at a crossroads in his career. The former Newcastle Royal Grammar School pupil undoubtedly has bags of talent, but at the moment it is open to question if he has the temperament to match.

This time last year, Peng scored a superb century in Durham's narrow defeat to Derbyshire to give a clear indication of his stroke-making skills. It proved to be a false dawn, his one and only 100 of the season, which saw him finish the year with an average of just 21.33 and only one other score above 50 in his 10 matches.

Peng, who scored 98 on his debut against Surrey in 2000, is just one of a crop of promising youngsters at the Riverside and it is easy to forget that he has only just stopped being a teenager. …

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