DURHAM may be lucky not to become the whipping boys of the Championship in their second season as a first class county, so it is just as well they have dreams to sustain them.
The rosiest view of the future seen from here involves a side composed of upstanding men from Stockton, Newton Aycliffe and Chester le Street: a genuine Durham team to wear the county badge with pride and passion.
It may happen; and if it does it is a reasonable assumption that the name of James Arthur Daley will figure prominently. His two appearances for the county last year brought scores of 88 and 80 and yesterday, as Kent swept to a third day victory by an innings and 22 runs, Daley's efforts at least gave the Darlington public reason to hang around after lunch, for 40 minutes anyway. His two-hour innings against enthusiastic seam bowlers on a helpful pitch revealed a maturity beyond his 19 years.
A miner's son from Sunderland, Daley has emerged from a background in the Durham Senior League, which suggests the foundation of the dream are sound enough. After more illustrious colleagues failed, he alone had the appetite for a fight as the target of 157 to make Kent bat a second time grew more unlikely.
At 51 for 5, only 35 minutes into the day, Daley began a partnership with Anderson Cummins, the West Indian fast bowler, that added 56 for the sixth wicket. It was never likely to do more than reduce Kent's margin but there were some handsome strokes among Daley's seven fours and it took a good ball from Martin McCague just after lunch, cutting back sharply off a good length, to dismiss him.
'He has great pride and passion in playing for Durham,' said his captain, David Graveney, who is trying to perform the delicate balancing act of promoting Daley as Durham's future while protecting him from overexposure.
'But it would be unwise to make wild predictions. He is an unassuming young man who listens to his older colleagues and I just want to create an environment in which he can develop his talent.
'You have to remember that he has only just started to play the game and I want to look after him in the best possible way.'
For Kent this was a first championship victory of the season, achieved through effective use of a seaming pitch by McCague and Alan Igglesden, both of whom may figure in England deliberations at some stage. McCague returned a season's best 5 for 33 while Igglesden's match figures were 10 for 125.Reuse content