So far, the biggest week in Durham's cricket history has not gone that well. It had been hoped they might travel to their first Lord's showpiece loftily poised in second place in the County Championship but the opportunity to slip past Yorkshire and sit on Sussex's tail was squandered in a drawn game here. Moreover, a grim medical bulletin confirmed that Steve Harmison will not face Hampshire in the Friends Provident Trophy final tomorrow and will probably miss the remainder of the domestic season.
Harmison last night said he was "heartbroken" to miss out on the final. The pain in his side and back that has halted his recuperation after a hernia operation has been put down to a muscle tear after scans revealed internal bleeding. The England bowler said that the impact of missing Lord's was "like being hit by a truck, physically and emotionally.
"The severity of the injury surprised everyone," he added. " The timing could not be worse. Having played for Durham through the lean years, I was looking forward to making my mark in Durham's first ever final and I'm heartbroken I won't be playing."
Geoff Cook, the Durham coach, said last night he thought it "unlikely" that Harmison will play any further part in Durham's season and the bowler will concentrate on regaining full fitness for England's tour of Sri Lanka in November.
No one has greater sympathy with Harmison than his England team-mate Paul Collingwood, with whom he shares an association with Durham spanning 12 of their 16 seasons as a first-class county.
"He did everything to try to get back after his hernia operation and for him to miss Durham's first final must be devastating," Collingwood said, recalling their first meeting at a second XI match in August 1996. "He turned up an hour late and, literally, had about enough time to get out of his car and snap his boots on before running in to bowl," he said. "It is a blow for the team."
The loss of Harmison as a weapon for Durham against Surrey clearly influenced the course of the match, although there still seemed to be an opportunity to secure a potentially vital win with Mark Butcher's team 374 runs behind at Wednesday's close.
Yet Dale Benkenstein, Durham's captain, cautiously chose to bat on for another half an hour, declaring only after Liam Plunkett had taken advantage of Harbhajan Singh tossing the ball up by lofting four sixes in one over, taking Durham's second-innings total to 397 for 7 and setting Surrey an unlikely 477 to win from a minimum of 86 overs.
It was a target they never seriously pursued despite a fighting century from Jonathan Batty, his fourth in the Championship this season.Reuse content