SO FAR, throughout their brief first-class career, Durham have failed to grab the limelight. If they were a musical turn - and increasingly they give every impression of being one - they would be in an extremely small box at the bottom of the bill, marked 'Also featuring'.
They have made intermittent, worthy efforts to improve their status, all of which have come to nought. Their inept display yesterday, when they began with a chance of winning, allowed Nottinghamshire to win much as they liked by eight wickets with 26 overs of the third day remaining.
A target of 113 to add to their first-innings 285 was woefully short of what was required to test Nottinghamshire or to give the Durham spinners any room for manoeuvre. Durham were 64 for one overnight but, 15 minutes after lunch, they were all out for 155 after a first-innings total of 242.
Five of the wickets fell to the left-arm spin of Andy Afford, three of them in the classic manner: caught at first slip, where Chris Lewis snaffled all that came his way. Durham's left-arm spinner, David Graveney, mentioned in the morning that Afford was perhaps the most prodigious spinner of the ball around. But while there was a degree of turn here, there was no genuine spite.
As wicket followed wicket, it looked as though Durham possessed no stomach for the fight. After Wayne Larkins miscued a drive off Afford to square cover, both Phil Bainbridge, aiming to midwicket, and John Longley were leg before to the seamers. Bainbridge, prolific on all fronts last summer, has assumed the Durham captaincy this year and the responsibility appears to have done little to improve his game.
Afford ran through the late middle order to finish with five for 32 on the day. He missed the wicket of John Morris, but nothing epitomised Durham's state more than the dismissal of their vaunted close-season signing. He faced 127 balls, struck six largely unconvincing boundaries and eventually holed out to mid-on in Mike Field-Buss's first over, as Nottinghamshire secured their second successive Championship victory. They have now won all five games in the three competitions. Few opponents will be so obliging.
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