Cricket: Durham are humbled by Watkinson and Barnett

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The Independent Online
Durham . . . . . . . . . . . . . .515-9 dec and 83

Lancashire . . . . . . . . . . . .442 and 157-4

Lancashire win by six wickets

ONE OF the first, dramatic terminal collapses of the season predictably involved Durham and led to a Lancashire victory with 7.3 overs to spare yesterday. There was no way back for Durham after they lost all their second-innings wickets for 37 runs in 25 overs, having declared at 515 for 9 in the first.

Alex Barnett, a left-arm spinner with a career-best 5 for 36 and Michael Watkinson, in his slower mode, capitalised to cause a frantic scrambling for pads and gloves in Durham's hitherto serene dressing-room. Watkinson's return of 5 for 12 was a testimony to accuracy and guile, but also betrayed an abject batting performance.

This was Durham's first all- out total below three figures since their Championship baptism last summer and David Graveney, their captain, must have rued the omission of Phil Berry, the former Yorkshire off- spinner, after the pitch responded to Lancashire's slow bowlers. Graveney was suffering from flu and his spin partner, Mark Briers, had been selected to bolster the batting at No 9 with part-time tweaking duties.

It all went wrong, poignantly, for Durham, whose combination of veterans and rookies is too sharply defined. Too few players are in mid-career. Their personnel have either done it all or have it all to do, with no middle men and, for that matter, no middle order. Injuries have not treated them kindly, but Ian Botham's bruised knee ranks among their more bizarre. He sustained it when being struck by a drive from Liam, his son, in the nets the previous day.

Botham planned to take no part yesterday but needs must, and he even experimented with a few overs of off-spin, more as nuisance value to Lancashire than as a brash statement that he could win the match.

Neil Fairbrother was there at the end but Watkinson finished the match with a six off Botham. Durham found out that playing well for three days is no passport to victory - or even safety.

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