Newspaper article The Journal (Newcastle, England)

Struggling Durham Need May Day Help

Newspaper article The Journal (Newcastle, England)

Struggling Durham Need May Day Help

Article excerpt

Byline: Stuart Rayner at Lord's Twitter: @StuRayner

ON Wednesday, Durham beat the County Championship leaders to ensure that even at this early stage, theirs was the only 100% record in Division One. By the end of a long Bank Holiday weekend, it felt like an eternity ago.

Having misread the conditions at Lord's, perhaps even having showed the slightest hint of over-confidence in their team selection, the best Paul Collingwood's men can hope to come home with is a draw.

Resuming today on 157-4, needing 314 to avoid the follow-on, even that will be hard work. Needing fifties and hundreds, they served up a succession of 20s.

The exception was Keaton Jennings, but he cannot emulate Sam Robson's first-day 178 if instead of support roles, all his partners can offer is cameos.

He may only be 22, but Jennings knows all too well the ups and downs of county cricket. On his last Championship appearance at Lord's, he was a dropped catch from a king pair, and left with a bog-standard one.

A walking wicket in September, now he looks calm and confident. Just as well, because Durham need to bat around him to avoid a first defeat of 2015.

Jennings came into the game with his only score this year against Durham University, runs which no longer carry the weight they once did. But in all his innings he has looked within touching distance of something significant.

Squared up by Jamie Harris, Jennings could have gone for three, but edged between third slip and gully. In September, it would have picked out one or the other.

More expansive recently, he outscored Stoneman, but his fellow lefthander's departure seemed to focus Jennings' mind in a way it did not with others, and he made only 61 of the 157. Crucially, he was not out.

Stoneman's unerring ability to get out when looking a million dollars shows no signs of abating. He might have gone for two, inside-edging uncomfortably close to the stumps. A lovely drive through mid-on when Harris strayed on to his legs - something Durham did too often on the sloping pitch on day one - showed it made no difference to his mindset.

But when Harris swung one away after tea, Stoneman's drive only found second slip. Another start was wasted. Borthwick was guilty of the same offence, pulling James Franklin to the boundary only to try to cut the next ball and edge it.

Michael Richardson has also made plenty of starts this year, but not much more. He was typically punishing through offside, but his sixth boundary was his last - feathering the next ball on 26.

Calum MacLeod's dismissal was the type you do not want and do get when searching for a first half-century of the season, the ball bouncing off thigh, elbow, then stump.

Jennings is only putting the opposition and the pitch into perspective. …

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