Seconds fall just short

Durham v Leicestershire, Second XI Championship, Day 3

SCORECARD

REPORT | By Pete Johnson

Players, umpires, groundstaff and scorers lined up at 11am to join the rest of the UK in a minutes silence in memory of people killed in Manchester as a result of the tragic events of last Monday evening. All spectators present in the ground, plus people on various courses in the hospitality boxes stood in silence as well. The bell on the players’ balcony rung to signal the start and end of the silence.

A day’s cricket followed where all four results were possible right up until the last wicket falling. Durham snatched victory from the jaws of defeat with an inspired session after tea, led from the front by skipper Adam Hickey. Durham getting home by 17 runs, when at tea County required 86 to win, from a minimum of 34 overs with six wickets in hand.  

A ‘top drawer’ hot sunny day greeted the players as they took to the field, Durham resuming on 284-7, Josh Coughlin 11*. There were changes to both teams overnight. Lewis Hill had been summoned to Derby for inclusion in the First XI squad, and Barry McCarthy had been asked to travel down to Swansea to link up with the Durham First XI Squad. Scott Steel of

Durham’s Academy was drafted in to replace McCarthy. Dominic Manthorpe being allowed to bat for Leicestershire, as we had just the required 12 players up in Durham for the match.

Durham batted on for 13 overs in the morning. The first over was bowled by Aadil Ali after which the new ball was due and taken. Will Fazakerley and Manthorpe took the new cherry. Fazakerley had a difficult chance spilled (not wishing to point the finger, but it was by a player who wears pads outside of his trousers, and gloves when in the field), but it was Manthorpe who picked up the two wickets to fall.

Coughlin (26) went caught by Jacob Bailey at cover, and Oli Smithson (0) went lbw. Left arm seamer Manthorpe has numerous lbw appeals, heartily supported by the keeper, and slip cordon, but always gets little joy from the umpire. I reckon my wife must have been a cricket umpire in a previous life, as she always gives a negative answer when I ask her for anything. I can very much empathise with Dominic.

Steel, who had taken an exam earlier in the morning weighed in with 38 not out from 39 balls. He certainly passed his test on the cricket field. Durham declared their innings on 352-9, from 92 overs, asking County to get 302 to win in a minimum of 81 overs at a rate of 3.72 an over. A very sporting declaration, giving both sides a chance.

County had 13 overs to negotiate before lunch. Aadil and Ben Raine opened the innings, with Umpire Tom Lungley standing at the Lumley End. My main concern was to get my tongue untwisted during those 13 overs, in order to give my full attention to the culinary delights on offer. Raine (2) went after 3.2 overs when he attempted a pull/hook shot, and was caught behind by Saf Imtiaz off Smithson.

Aadil was joined by Joe Barrett and the pair rattled the score along. The pair brought up their 50 partnership with the score on 66-1 from 11.5. They took County into lunch on 77-1 from 13. Aadil 37*, Barrett 34*. After lunch Ali soon posted his 50 (7x4/1x6) from 57 balls with the score on 97-1 from 18.5, the maximum being a trademark Ali straight six.

Barrett, who had gone second ball in the first innings, was playing a calm, assured innings, and was a perfect foil for Ali. The score had reached 98 when Barrett (38) edged spinner Hickey to keeper Imtiaz.

All-rounder Fazakerley joined Ali and the pair threatened to take the game away from Durham. Aadil was the dominant partner, being brutal to some of the bowling he received. He complimented this with a couple of delicate little dabs to the unguarded third man area. Fazakerley was the ‘sleeping partner’ but he would take the ascendency once Aadil departed the crease. Ali (77 from 89 balls) went caught at first slip by Hickey when attempting to drive a seamer Smithson. County on 141-3 from 30.2 overs.

Callum Parkinson played a delightful leg glance for 4, immediately after which a helicopter flew overhead at low level. I don’t know if that was a sign of appreciation or not. Parkinson (7) was then dismissed in very unlucky circumstances. A ball from Hickey clipped his pads, and rebounded onto the wicket. Parky had a Victor Meldrew look of ‘I don’t believe it’. Very unfortunate.

Fazakerley was joined by James Sykes and the pair looked to have put Leicestershire in a winning position. Fazakerley was now the dominant partner, taking runs from the majority of balls he received. They were rotating the strike, quicker than the blades were rotating on the aforementioned helicopter.

He took a particular liking to seamers Smithson and Coughlin, taking them for four and two boundaries respectively. Fazakerley went to his 50 (8x4) from 60 balls with the score on 188-4 from 40.5. A few overs later the 50 partnership between Fazakerley and Sykes came up with the score on 214-4.

Fazakerley was now taking singles regularly, keeping the board ticking over. County went into tea on 216-4 from 47 overs, needing a further 86 to win from a minimum of 34 overs. It looked a formality, but cricket can be a funny old game. The only thing that is predictable is the unpredictability of it.

The tormenter in chief of the post tea session was spinner Hickey. County had initially seemed untroubled reaching 247 from a further five overs when the wheels came off big time. Sykes having made an impressive 29 from 50 balls, including a cluster of glorious on drives, lofted spinner Fez Hussain to Usman Arshad at a very wide mid-on/mid-wicket (sounds better than cow corner).

County still looked favourites with Fazakerley at the crease. Harry Swindells (8) hit Hickey straight down the throat of Jamie Dass on the deep mid-wicket boundary. This left County on 263-6, with just 39 needed to win.

Charlie Shreck batted for 26 deliveries, including 24 dot balls, in an effort to support Fazakerley, who was now tasked with the responsibility of seeing us over the line. Shreck (2) lofted up a caught and bowled to Hickey from a leading edge. 274-7, 28 needed to win. James Dickinson (2) went caught at first slip by Gareth Harte off, yes, you’ve guessed it, Hickey. 279-8, 23 still needed.

Durham then put themselves firmly in the box seat when Fazakerley (83) from 115 balls was caught at mid-off by Steel off Smithson. A superb innings from Fazakerley who did everything he could to see County home. Will, if you read this you have got to get a shorter name, it is wearing my fingers out the amount of times I have to type Fazakerley. Keep this to yourself, but Fazakerley’s role model is Zak Chappell, he even has Zak’s christian name included in his surname. 279-9, 23 required with the last pair at the crease.

The last hour was called with County on 283-9 with a minimum of 16 overs remaining. Jacob Bailey gave County a flicker of hope when he hit seamer Smithson over the top for four. County’s innings came to an end when Bailey (4) lofted Adam Hickey up to mid off for Josh Coughlin to claim a match winning catch. Manthorpe was one not out, County all out for 284 from 67.3 overs. Durham winning by 17 runs.

As I said earlier cricket is a funny old game, who would have thought on day one with Durham on 49-6 that they would win the game in the final hour of day three. Aadil, Barrett, Fazakerley and Sykes put us in an excellent position to win the game, but it was not to be.

Finally, it was good to see Raine back out on the field, and I am sure we all sincerely hope he is back to full fitness soon. As that whistling old song smith Roger Whittaker said, I’ve got to leave old Durham town. Anybody over 65 will be able to sing along with that one. Durham 22 points, Leicestershire 7 points.

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