A batting day at Durham

SCORE | Day 1, Second XI Friendly (3 days): Durham Second XI 464 for 4 declared v Leicestershire Second XI 40 for 1


REPORT | By Pete Johnson

Following yesterday’s 50-over SEF being abandoned, I had much time at my disposal whilst in the far north. Without wishing to go over old ground, you may recall that I have visited all current 92 Premiership, and Football League Grounds. Also, to date I have been on 13 of the grounds of Clubs currently in the Vanarama National League (Conference). Additionally, you will not be surprised to know that I wear anoraks out quite quickly.  

A window of opportunity existed to visit the home of Gateshead FC as they were at home on Tuesday evening to Ebbsfleet United, and for me to chalk up Conference ground number 14. I duly made my way from Durham to Gateshead, and after the match had one of those ‘Sliding Doors’ moments. I was on the escalator at Newcastle Metro Station.

As the lift trundled up to the platforms, this chap started up a conversation with me. Whilst talking to him, I thought to myself, what a pleasant young man he is. Anyway, we get to the top of the escalator, I shake his hand, and say ‘nice talking to you, all the best mate’. He replies, ‘I will see you at the Riverside tomorrow, I am the Durham wicket-keeper’. Quite ironic when a Scorer doesn’t recognise a player, but a player recognises the Scorer! #septaganariansuperstar. 

It transpired that said wicket-keeper, Ryan Davies, is a Dover Athletic supporter, and had gone along to the Gateshead v Ebbsfleet game hoping to see Gateshead do Dover a favour by beating Ebbsfleet, so that Dover Athletic still had a play-off place in their own hands. It was not to be as Ebbsfleet won 5-2 (Official Attendance 411). Some other game finished 5-2 on Tuesday night didn’t it?

I digress, but that has brought us all up to date with the happenings of the last 18 hours or so in the maelstrom that is the world of one PN Johnson Esq. I just don’t know how I fit all of seven days into one week. 

Hey, here comes the cricket. We arrived at The Emirates Riverside, Chester-le-Street, home of Durham CCC, for a three-day SEF. The Scorers for the game being ensconced in the Media Suite, which is right behind the arm, with the pavilion to our left. We had a good vantage point to survey the cavernous expanses of this ground which can accommodate 14,200 people for an International fixture. The 20 or so souls that were in attendance today looking lost amongst the wilderness of empty seats. In the far distance at the Lumley End I could see four large white tower blocks, that I was told were in Gateshead. To my right Lumley Castle stood serenely to attention, with the cross of St George flying majestically on one of its turrets. 

The day’s cricket contained a feast of runs, some 504 of them for the loss of five wickets, including two Durham CCC batsmen, who retired out as it was a friendly fixture. Durham CCC posted 464-4 declared. County replied with 40-1 from the 10 overs made available to them. It was a tough day in the field for Leicestershire CCC, but they stuck to their task in albeit an uphill battle.

Gareth Harte skippered Durham CCC, won the toss and elected to bat. Cameron Steel and Michael Jones opened the innings for Durham CCC against a pace attack of Dieter Klein and Tom Taylor. The wicket resembled the surface of the nearby A1, so wickets were at a premium.

The Durham CCC duo brought up a 50 partnership from 15.4 overs, and Jones progressed to his half century (11x4, 80b). The 100 partnership came up after 23.2 overs. When the score had progressed to 114, Steel (44) was caught by Zak Chappell running back from mid-on off the bowling of Rob Sayer. Durham CCC went into lunch on 141-1 from 31. Jones 67*, Michael Richardson 12*. I was reliably informed that Richardson’s father is David Richardson, CEO of the ICC. I had a quick furtive squint at the 2018 Durham Handbook which confirmed that my informant’s information was correct.

The morning session proved somewhat of an endurance test for me. I was sitting between the Durham Scorer and the Durham Security/Safety Officer whose desk is in a corner of the Media Suite. They are two lovely blokes with strong North Eastern accents. I was fast becoming an expert on all that they considered wrong with Sunderland AFC. It was like sitting between a couple of generators, with the deep and incessant rumbling. Almost every senior player and Manager of Sunderland since the War was given an instant appraisal, with much input from their first hand observations. 

I may request that LCCC design a pair of club issue ear defenders for me, they would look quite striking with a Running Fox across each ear defender. I am unsure as to whether a red or gold fox would compliment my finely honed features better. My morning took a welcome turn as being situated in the Media Suite, I did not have to complete a Durham half marathon to get fed and watered at lunch and tea time, unlike our visit last year when I was positioned in the Scoreboard on the far side of the ground to the pavilion. 

Also, there is a water tank beneath the scoreboard that gives off a very pungent smell. When you took an intake of breath within the confines of the scoreboard it was a bit like Dan Nice and a Lifeboat, better out than in. Now then Mr Editor, careful with the censorship, I have a passing acquaintance with one or two ‘heavies’. [Editor’s note: A little harsh... but talking of lifeboats, and the potential of League One football, Doncaster Rovers are nearly in safe waters now!]

Crikey the players are coming out after lunch... Jones and Richardson proceeded to bat for the entire afternoon session with only one cause for alarm. Richardson, when on 30, was put down in the deep gully area from a sharp chance off Tom Wells. There were many milestones in their partnership. Jones 100 (5x4, 1x6, 150b), Richardson 50 (5x4, 1x6, 53b), Richardson 100 (10x4, 2x6, 114b), Jones 150 (18x4, 4x6, 198b). 

When things are not running for you, you have to stick to the task. I would like to make mention of keeper Harry Swindells who only let through three byes during this marathon, while also displaying an enthusiastic persona behind the stumps. The three byes all came from one delivery. Leg-spinner James Dickinson bounced back after a tricky opening over and demonstrated a fine piece of sportsmanship when signalling that a ball he chased to the fence had actually made contact with the rope in a photo finish, like the recent Grand National. Taylor and Ateeq Javid returned good economy rates too. Durham went into tea on 370-1, Jones 164*, Richardson 123*. 

During the tea interval, both batsmen retired out, Durham effectively being 370-3 now. After Tea Gareth Harte and Ryan Pringle batted well. Conversation turned to Sunderland’s FA Cup win in 1973. I rattled off the Sunderland team of that day and gained oodles of Brownie Points, I’ll never have to buy a drink in Durham again! I have sent off my application to Mastermind where my specialist subject will be the life and times of Sunderland AFC. 

While all this is going on I am continuing to eagerly beaver away. Harte and Pringle made a 50 partnership from 79 balls, then Pringle went to his half century (9x4, 1x6) from 42 balls. The partnership was broken when Funnell remained ship shape after bowling a no-ball and deflected the ball onto the stumps at the non-striker’s end to run out Harte (17). Durham declared their innings on 464-4 with Pringle dipping in with 73* from 60 balls. 

County had 10 overs to face in what remained of the day and made steady progress. Wells and Swindells faced an opening attack of Gavin Main and Oliver Gibson. Swindells stroked three excellent boundaries in taking on the new ball. However, the ‘Ivanhoe Imp’ perished when he edged Gibson to Pringle at second slip for a regulation catch. Swindells made 18, County 34-1 from 7.1.

Taylor came in as nightwatchman to be greeted by the first bright sunshine of the day when he arrived at the wicket. Long shadows stretched across the vast expanses of the Emirates. Taylor (1*) was ably supported by Wells (19*), who took three boundaries off Main and played with the responsibility that the situation demanded.

TEAM | (12 named, with Nightingale coming in for Klein on days 2 and 3). Wells (capt), Swindells (wk), Aadil, Pettini, Javid, Chappell, Sayer, Taylor, Klein, Mike, Dickinson, Funnell, Nightingale.

* Leicestershire CCC Second XI are in action at the Fischer County Ground next Wednesday for a Trophy fixture against Northamptonshire CCC. Admission is free with the match due to start at 11am.