Cricket: Durham laid bare by spin: Rob Steen reports from Lord's

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Middlesex 366 and 159-3 dec; Durham 232 and 118. Middlesex win by 175 runs

AFTER the honeymoon, the awakening. In the middle of June, Durham lay fourth in the Championship; now, four defeats later, only Glamorgan stand between the new tenants and the basement. The emphatic nature of this latest reversal will doubtless heighten their relief that relegation is not at stake.

Inadequacies laid bare by spin of the highest order, Durham were doused in another cold shower of reality yesterday. A fit Dean Jones might conceivably have made a difference, yet against a pair of temptresses of the calibre of Phil Tufnell and John Emburey on a pitch as accommodating as this, far better line-ups than theirs would have succumbed.

Favourable surface or not, the domination exerted by the slow men was refreshing, 29 of the 33 wickets falling their way. Of these, Tufnell took 8 for 109 and Emburey 9 for 137, but they were outdone by Phil Berry, whose 10 for 191 constituted the first instance of a double-figure haul by a Durham bowler. Throw in a career-best with bat as well as ball and here, at least, was consolation for the coming campaigns.

For Tufnell the immediate future positively dazzles. Lack of match fitness was cited as the reason for his exclusion at Headingley, but it is difficult to envisage the selectors resisting his claims at The Oval, scene of his destruction of the West Indies a year ago. Emburey, whose own credentials to tour India will be just as hard to ignore, outshone him yesterday. Even so, it was the junior partner who made the critical incision when Paul Parker was befuddled by one that turned, lifted and kissed the shoulder of the bat en route to first slip.

Requiring 294 in a minimum of 69 overs after Mike Roseberry had swelled his match aggregate to 253 with a sure-footed 81, Durham promptly faltered when Chas Taylor picked up Wayne Larkins and Stewart Hutton inside his first six overs. Ian Botham embarked with a straight six off Neil Williams, but Tufnell soon enticed him with a beauty to present a stumping not even Keith Brown could squander.

Parker and the dogged Berry apart, the rest went quietly, giving Middlesex a belated first home win of the season. If news of Essex's loss will keep the flame flickering, inspiring a late burst on the rails is probably beyond even Mike Gatting's energetic whip.