James Sykes SCC portrait
Match Reports

SEC game nicely poised at Durham

Durham v Leicestershire, Second XI Championship, Day 2


REPORT | By Pete Johnson

Upon arrival at the ground for day two of this SEC encounter my scoring colleague Grahame insisted on taking me on his guided tour of all areas of the Emirates Riverside ground. 

We went from the bowels to the echelons of this North Eastern cricket nerve centre, from the Board Room to the Laundry Room, the Media Centre to the Academy Centre. No area in the labyrinth of rooms and corridors was left unvisited. A very interesting, and informative time was had. I felt exhausted before a ball had been bowled. 

Grahame has a voice that sounds exactly the same as the actor Tim Healy, a member of the cast of Auf Wiedersehen, Pet and Benidorm. Grahame, however, resisted the temptation to dress up as a woman for part of the day. Eagle eyed watchers of the ITV drama production will know where I am coming from on that one. 

Honours were just about even at the end of day two. Leicestershire taking a first innings lead of 51 runs, then Durham closing on 284-7, leading by 233 runs. Going into the final day any one of four results are still possible. A good all-round day for James Sykes, 46 runs, two wickets, one of which including an excellent caught and bowled.

County resumed day two of this SEC encounter at The Emirates Riverside on 169-6, trailing Durham by 50 runs, Sykes 20* and Harry Swindells 3*. The players took to the field on what was for the Second XI, weather wise, the first ‘cracking the flags’ day of the season. I am sure Aunty Carole (Kirkwood) would have had the correct meteorological terminology at hand to describe such a day.

Sykes peppered the boundary on six occasions in the first nine overs of the morning. He took seamer Barry McCarthy to task, taking him for two exquisite boundaries followed by three more in one over in one over, all along the carpet as well. Sykes also hit spinner Adam Hickey over the top for a boundary. I never thought I would be able to use Sykes’ name in the same sentence as over the top... 

Swindells also took McCarthy for two boundaries as well. The score had reached 207 when Sykes (46) was caught behind by Saf Imtiaz off McCarthy. Sykes attempting to drive, and was rather cross with himself getting out when a merited half century beckoned. 

Charlie Shreck joined Swindells at the crease, so we had Charles and Harry out in the middle. Charles taking on the father figure role of course. I quite fancy myself as a Royal Correspondent, as opposed to that of Humble Scribe. 

‘Keeper Swindells (21) perished when trapped in front by Hickey when attempting an orthodox sweep. Back to the Palace (Pavilion) for Harry. Shreck (20 from 14 balls) went caught at cover by Jamie Dass off Hickey, leaving County on 234-9 from 57.1 overs, still needing a further 16 runs to secure a third batting point. 

An entertaining last wicket partnership of 36 developed between James Dickinson and Jacob Bailey. Both youngsters took on the bowling, each depositing Hickey for a huge maximum with Dickinson targeting mid-wicket, and Bailey wide mid-on. 

A special mention for Durham’s Cameron Shoebridge, who during the partnership made a sprawling stop, adjacent to the rope, right in my eye line, but signalled to the umpire that it was in fact a boundary. The last wicket pair were proving very obstinate, and seamer Oli Smithson gave both of them a bouncer or two. Once upon a time numbers 10 and 11 were exempt from bouncers. The partnership came to an end when Bailey (12) was bowled by spinner Fez Hussain. Dickinson 22*. County closing on 270, a lead of 51 runs. 

Durham had 11 overs to negotiate before lunch, progressing to 37-1 during that time. Dominic Manthorpe had a frustrating over, having a very confident lbw shout against Gareth Harte turned down and then being struck for consecutive boundaries from the following two balls. 

County got their pre-lunch wicket when Harte (18) top edged a delivery from Will Fazakerley, the ball spiralling towards the heavens. That celestial body Swindells stood motionless as the ball made a downward trajectory into his welcoming gloves. Michael Jones 12*and Tom Hewison 1* saw Durham into lunch. 

In the sixth over after lunch County picked up their second wicket. Hewison had edged Shreck through the slip cordon for 4, and next ball cover driven Shreck to the ropes. The wily old fox then slipped him a slower ball, a full toss that rattled into his stumps. Hewison gone for 11, Durham on 56-2 from 16.4, leading by 5 runs. 

Then followed a partnership of 131 between Jones and Durham skipper Hickey. Their 50 alliance came up from 90 balls with the score on 109-2 from 31.4. Jones brought up his 50 (9x4) from 100 balls. Hickey soon followed going to his half-century from 80 balls (9x4). Their century partnership came up from 152 balls with the score on 156-2 from 42 overs. 

Hickey was looking the more menacing of the two but when he had made 81 he went to a superb caught and bowled by Sykes, the left arm spinner scooping a hard driven ball one-handed, inches from the ground. Durham on 187-3 from 45.4.  
Jones and Saf Imtiaz took Durham into tea on 200-3 from 49 overs.

During the interval John Wakefield who I had got to know when scored for Durham with me at Desborough last season, joined me for a chat. He originates from Leicester, but lives in Gosforth, and visits the KPS when time permits, so we had quite a bit of matters LCFC to discuss. John is now the PA Announcer for First XI games at the Emirates Riverside. Very good of him to take time out to come and see yours truly. He obviously appreciates being in the company of a good bloke. 

In the 20 minute tea interval, I had to engage in conversation with John, eat my tea, and complete a Durham half marathon, as the scorers are located some distance from the pavilion as the crow flies. I just do not know how I cope with the rock ‘n’ roll lifestyle of a Second XI scorer. 

After tea the pair were not scoring at an alarming pace but were fast becoming difficult to dislodge. Ben Raine was rotating his front line bowlers regularly. At one time we had (Aadil) Ali and (Callum) Parkinson bowling in tandem, bringing back memories of a couple of classic interviews in the 1970s.

The obstinate partnership was finally brought to an end when Jones mistimed a hook off Shreck. Jacob Bailey stationed at wide long-leg, had to wait an eternity for the ball to come down but took an excellent catch to dismiss Jones (88) from 166 balls. ‘Indiana’ Jones being second on the bill to Shreck. Harrison Ford would not have let that happen.

Parkinson, like his namesake, produced a good show late in the evening. Imtiaz (42) from 88 balls, went caught at short extra cover by Ali, and first innings half-centurion Jamie Dass (0) went lbw, having no answer to the questions Parky was asking, Durham on 268-6 from 75.4 overs. 

With the final delivery of the day Sykes got just reward for a good spell by bowling the dangerous Usman Arshad (14). Durham ending the day on 284-7 from 79 overs leading by 233 runs with Josh Coughlin 11*. 

The first hour tomorrow morning could be vital in the outcome of the match, with the new ball due in an over’s time. Durham 6 points, Leicestershire 7 points.