LATE AUGUST can be a testing time for seam bowlers. Many are world-weary, some not even fit. So Durham, without the considerable services of Steve Harmison and Melvyn Betts, had every reason to be satisfied with a highly disciplined bowling performance yesterday.
Certain things were in their favour, such as the toss, a slow, occasionally two-paced pitch and, not least, a batting display by Derbyshire which neglected to take this into account. It was one of the day's little ironies that Michael Slater, of all people, was the only top-order batsman to show a degree of patience.
With timing never straightforward, Slater had to temper his normal game and he worked hard to achieve the right balance. But his ability to deal severely with the half-volley or anything similar enabled him to make only his second Championship half-century of the season from a mere 67 balls, with eight fours.
He must have been planning to go on to greater things when he went across his stumps to play through mid-wicket and was palpably lbw. He thus became a notable first scalp for Marc Symington, an 18-year-old Tyneside-born all-rounder who was making his Championship debut.
Symington emerged with three wickets, and on this evidence there will be many more. Showing no signs of nerves he found a full length immediately with his briskish medium pace and, by getting close to the stumps, made the most of his ability to move the ball away from the bat.
His accuracy was typical of Durham's overall efforts. In 70 overs they bowled not one no-ball or wide. Hands up any other county side who can match that nowadays. On this pitch, their accuracy preyed on Derbyshire's batsman and, one by one, they succumbed.
Some, like Matt Cassar and Karl Krikken, were betrayed by lack of footwork. Others, like Kim Barnett and Ben Spendlove, chased wide ones. Not until Derbyshire were 92 for 6 did the left-handed Ian Blackwell bring some selectivity to the proceedings. His 57 was a career-best innings, but even he spoilt his big day by smearing across the line against Nick Phillips and paying the usual price.
The former England fast bowler, Paul Jarvis, says he is looking forward to a fresh challenge, having left Sussex after five years. The 33-year- old, who spent 12 years at Yorkshire before moving to Hove in 1994, believes he has at least two years left at the top level.Reuse content