Durham’s frustrating start to the season continued when rain washed out the whole of the final day to consign their match against Nottinghamshire to the draws column, which accounts for five of their six results so far.
The concern for their captain, Paul Collingwood, is that the side he led to the Championship title last season has yet to register a win in 2014, although a run of injuries to bowlers has not helped.
That is why Durham hoped Chennai Super Kings would lose to Mumbai Indians in the Indian Premier League eliminator yesterday, which would have meant their new overseas player, Australian fast-bowling all-rounder John Hastings, would be free to book his flight to England. Unfortunately they won with ease.
Hastings has been a fringe member of the Chennai squad, having made only one appearance, and Collingwood is in no doubt that Durham need him.
“We have not played our best cricket so far and what has been different this year is that our batting has been our strong suit whereas usually it is our seam bowling,” said Collingwood. “So we are excited about John Hastings coming in.
“Hopefully of our injured players Graham Onions is not too far away with his back and Mark Wood as well is close. When we get that quartet of seam bowlers that we want on the park all together, I think we can cause some serious problems for other sides.”
Durham are still missing Jamie Harrison and the leg-spinner-batsman Scott Borthwick, and are unlikely to see a lot more of Ben Stokes after the England all-rounder marked his comeback with three wickets in 15 overs and a half-century.
Stokes is expected to be involved in the Twenty20 matches against Lancashire at Chester-le-Street today and back at Trent Bridge tomorrow before the four-day match against Middlesex at home, starting on Sunday.
“I was delighted for Ben,” Collingwood said. “There have been times in the past for Durham where he has struggled to find the rhythm of batting in four-day games but he looks as though he has learned a lot about his shot selection and the way he can score from his experience in the Ashes in the winter.
“I would say he is still 20 per cent away with the pace and accuracy of his bowling but I would expect him to be close to 100 per cent in the next game.”
Draws in all the other First Division matches this week leaves Middlesex in front on 90 points, 10 ahead of Somerset and Yorkshire. Durham are seventh, although the gap between themselves and the leaders is only 34 points.