Newspaper article The Journal (Newcastle, England)

Players Making Progress but Inexperience Shows

Newspaper article The Journal (Newcastle, England)

Players Making Progress but Inexperience Shows

Article excerpt

Byline: Stuart Rayner

KNEECAPPED by points deductions they were always going to struggle to overcome, Durham's 2017 has to be more about individual performances.

So although they suffered a second defeat which puts them four wins behind the pacesetters with 11 days before they can do anything about it, there were pluses in the Riversiders' six-wicket defeat to champions Northamptonshire.

This was a repeat of last year's Twenty20 final and much of it hugged closely to the same script, Northamptonshire cantering to a below-par score. But this was not a replica of Friday's defeat at home to Lancashire.

Led by Jack Burnham's maiden Twenty20 half-century, Durham laid the platform for a good total and generally looked more sure of what they were doing in the field. Threequarters of an excellent spell of death bowling by Usman Arshad even had the visitors making an unseemly dash for the finish line.

Had Durham finished and fielded better, it could have made for an interesting contest.

With the England and Wales Cricket Board making collective honours so hard to come by this season, personal achievement has become more important as an inexperienced team looks to grow into something formidable next season. Graham Clark, Chris Rushworth, Paul Coughlin, James Weighell and Cameron Steel have set significant new personal milestones this season and yesterday Burnham added himself to the list with an unbeaten 53. His talents are not unknown to Riverside regulars. The right-hander from Esh Winning broke Alastair Cook's record for most runs by an Englishman at an Under-19 World Cup two winters ago and although he only made 17 against Yorkshire on Twenty20 Finals Day, he showed composure and class worth much more.

Durham's is a ridiculously inexperienced line-up in the shortest form of the game.

At a time when more 20-over cricket is being played than ever, Paul Collingwood's 10 team-mates had 250 appearances between them in the format. Only four were Burnham's.

Durham might be last year's runners-up, but only six of the team who played against Northamptonshire last time did so this. Against the shrewdest Twenty20 side in England, it was men against boys.

The inexperience showed. From 126-3 after 15 overs, Durham ought to have set a lot more than 162 to win. But Collingwood was out four balls later, Josh Cobb's good low catch extricating him for 38 from 28 balls, and without him, Durham did not have the nous to eke runs off the good balls. Of the 26 post-Collingwood deliveries, only six went for more than a run on a playing surface kept as big as possible precisely so the younger, lither home batsmen could maximise running betweenthe wickets.

Burnham tried to launch the final two deliveries of the innings into next week, and missed both, just as he had been bowled trying to smash a free hit earlier. …

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