Plunkett joins injured list as Durham feel the pinch

Yorkshire 610-6 dec Durham 330-9 & 46-0 (Match drawn)
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The Independent Online

Durham, with some help from the weather, escaped with a draw here, although you suspect they might have preferred a defeat if it had come with fewer injuries.

Liam Plunkett is the latest casualty to hit a seam bowling roster already shorn of four key wicket-takers and now two frontline batsmen face potential lay-offs. Meanwhile Graham Onions, whose fitness is a concern for England as well as Durham, has suffered a setback in his recovery from the back injury he sustained in Bangladesh in February.

Michael di Venuto, an unbeaten century-maker on Thursday, could not continue his innings yesterday because of an intercostal strain, while it was revealed that the knee injury Dale Benkenstein suffered fielding on Wednesday, the pain from which he defied when he batted the following day, was rather more serious than supposed.

"Dale is a tough fellow but it seems he has a detached tendon in his knee," Geoff Cook, the Durham director of cricket, said. "Liam is going to have a scan on his ribs on what looks like a stress injury. With Onions and Stephen Harmison missing, he was virtually a one-man attack in our last game against Hampshire and he has had to bowl a lot of overs here. He has had this kind of injury twice before and was out for six weeks each time but we are hoping to nip it in the bud this time."

Cook added that while Harmison, who has missed all three of Durham's Championship matches with a trapped nerve in his back, may play against Durham UCCE next week, a comeback for Onions is still some way off: "Graham's rehabilitation comes under the ECB's jurisdiction but I don't think they will mind me telling you that he has had to have another injection, which suggests it is not going as well as they would have hoped."

Durham, for whom Mitch Claydon and Callum Thorp also missed this match, have recalled Luke Evans from a loan spell at Northamptonshire. In the circumstances, reliant on a "semi-apprentice attack", Cook felt his side had done well to deny buoyant Yorkshire a third win on an unresponsive pitch.

They had help from the weather. After a session and a half was lost to the elements on Thursday, rain intervened again at tea yesterday, forcing the contest to be abandoned as a draw. Durham, who had been four down for 215 overnight, were forced to follow on for a second time this season as Yorkshire bowled them out for 330 but suffered no real alarms in reaching 46 without loss.

With Di Venuto and Benkenstein likely to have batted only in emergency, however, they might not have relished much more exposure to Tino Best, who made light of the dead track by bowling full, swinging deliveries to pick up four wickets yesterday, including Ian Blackwell and Phil Mustard in the space of three balls.

Australia's Phil Harris was due to have been Yorkshire's overseas player for 2010 but his call-up as Brett Lee's replacement in the World Twenty20 may mean a longer stay for Best, who was initially signed only as a stop-gap.

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