Profligate Durham

MIKE CAREYreports from Old TraffordDurham 249; Lancashire 37-1
Click to follow
The Independent Online
When Jerome Kern wrote "Very Warm for May", he definitely did not have Old Trafford in mind. Similarly, Durham seemed a trifle surprised to encounter excellent batting conditions here yesterday and one batsman after another got out when he should have been going on to greater things.

These are early days, as some aspects of Lancashire's bowling and fielding reminded everyone, but Durham will surely have to learn to make the most of winning such excellent tosses as this; or, in the words of their director of cricket, Geoff Cook: "Batsmen must learn not to become satisfied too easily."

Two years ago here Durham made 515 and still lost. Now everyone got a few but no one scored a lot, which is no kind of formula for four-day cricket. Lancashire, surely, would have settled in advance for a much less rewarding day, given the conditions.

Not that the bowlers were entirely without hope. Mike Roseberry and Wayne Larkins had to blunt the new ball and a lively spell by Wasim Akram. And Roseberry had made only two when he was dropped at slip by Michael Atherton off Peter Martin.

By the time Martin found a gap between Larkins' bat and pad, the ball had probably lost much of its hardness. But John Morris's first scoring stroke was an inside edge which must have been perilously close to his stumps and, one way or another, the rub of the green did not go for Lancashire.

So they would have been agreeably surprised when Gary Keedy, their Yorkshire- born slow left-armer, in the course of a somewhat variable exploratory spell, persuaded Roseberry to attempt a cover drive from which he was caught at the wicket while Morris's half-century was the product of much selectivity.

He was eventually caught at slip trying to force Glen Chapple off the back foot, but James Daley and Manoj Prabhakar moved past 200 in a way that suggested even greater prosperity lay ahead, leaving Lancashire grateful for a tidy spell of stock bowling by Mike Watkinson in his slower vein.

But once Wasim had yorked Daley and Prabhakar had surprisingly and disappointingly lifted Martin to mid-off, the gates were wide open and Wasim mopped up with another hostile spell which could only have left Durham regretting their missed opportunities.