In the evening shadows here, Steve Harmison ran in with the intent of a man who knows he could bowl himself into the Test team over the next couple of days, but it was Adil Rashid who offered the selectors more tangible food for thought.
There is a determination not to rush Yorkshire's 21-year-old leg-spinner, largely based on a fear that premature exposure could tarnish his undoubted talent. England are content to allow him time to realise his potential, a policy endorsed by his county, who may not have been entirely dismayed that Monty Panesar and Graeme Swann were chosen ahead of him for Cardiff.
By his own admission, Rashid "could have bowled better" for England Lions at Worcester last week, although he said he had learned from the experience. Back home yesterday, he revealed again the qualities that will surely make him a fixture in the senior national side in time, turning the ball appreciably on a slow surface to claim three wickets as Durham, the championship leaders, were dismissed for their lowest first innings score of the season. He was particularly effective against the left-handers, bowling Michael di Venuto through the gate and deceiving Ian Blackwell with a ball the former England batsman thought he could play off the back foot until it hurried through and collided with his stumps. Harmison, as it happens, was his third victim, leg before in an attempt to sweep.
It was a good day, too, for Rashid's young team-mate, the seamer Ajmal Shahzad, whose lively opening spell from the Football Stand End accounted for Kyle Coetzer, caught behind driving, and Gordon Muchall, trapped in front, in the space of three balls. Shahzad's third wicket appeared to be the subject of a difference of opinion between Liam Plunkett, given out leg before, and the umpire Michael Gough, a former Durham player, over whether the ball would have hit the stumps.
It took a gritty 62 from Dale Benkenstein to hold Durham together, although given that it was his decision to bat first, in the absence, because of a family illness, of captain Will Smith, it was the least he could do. He was last man out, a second victim for Matthew Hoggard as the England discard found some belated rhythm and bounce, ushering Yorkshire to begin their reply with 23 overs left in the day.
Durham now looked to Harmison, who bowled six overs with intent and posed danger at times but took his sweater wicketless. Mitch Claydon made the only breakthrough as Jacques Rudolph edged a widish ball.Reuse content