Newspaper article The Journal (Newcastle, England)

Di Venuto Is Delighted to Be Back in Form Again

Newspaper article The Journal (Newcastle, England)

Di Venuto Is Delighted to Be Back in Form Again

Article excerpt

Byline: Stuart Rayner

FORM in sport can be a strange thing. One minute you can be down in the dumps, unable to buy a wicket or a handful of runs, then before you know it you are taking hat-tricks and smashing the world's top Test team around the park. It can happen in reverse just as quickly and inexplicably.

Not so long ago, Michael Di Venuto was that rarest of oddities in the current Durham dressing room, an out-of-form batsman.

He says it was more bad luck, but the numbers in the scorebook are the same either way.

After scoring a century against Somerset in mid-May, the left-hander's average was a miserable 7.5 until he was recalled to the one-day side at Hampshire for a bit of extra batting practice.

His innings had been well spread out - just six in that trough - but that was part of the problem, seldom allowed two knocks by the Durham bowlers and kept out of the limited-overs side.

Four scores in excess of 50 in the four matches since showed he has instantly regained his touch. Just as well, because without him Durham's decision to bat first yesterday might have looked foolish.

With blue skies - remember them? - and a not especially green pitch, Phil Mustard was not going to make the same mistake again having inserted Somerset on a belter in his last match.

There was, though, a humidity in the air until a heavy shower just after lunch washed it away.

For bowlers who ply their trade at Trent Bridge, it was an open invitation and Andre Adams (pictured right) was quite happy to take it.

Always ready to confound logic, it seems to be one of cricket's unwritten rules the longer you make your batting order, the lower the scores you make.

Maybe the comfort blanket of knowing a man averaging 67.7 this season - captain Mustard himself - was listed at eight discouraged batsmen from taking responsibility.

Then again, the blame for the wickets was shared around.

His New Zealand career long since over having decided being a Kolpak player was more worthwhile, Adams is one of the best on the county circuit.

Like Callum Thorp, he lacks the express pace Test selectors are obsessed with (only one of his black caps was earned over five days) but has the balance for the English domestic game - quick enough to trouble batsmen, gentle enough to swing the ball and to get through a season without breaking down.

His reward this season has been 49 wickets, to add to the 111 from the last two. He started the week as the First Division's leading wicket-taker.

Will Smith did give his wicket away, pulling Darren Pattinson straight to Paul Franks on the fine leg boundary for 13, but Adams was in prime form.

Gordon Muchall survived an interesting leg before wicket appeal from his first ball and, despite some glorious shots, never truly convinced. …

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