Horton the difference again for Lancashire
Durham 102 and 0 for 0 trail Lancashire 170 (Horton 49*, Hogg 33, Onions 5-43) by 68 runs
Match-winning innings come in many guises. Some feature all-guns blazing attack, others are filled with little but attritional obduracy.
After a day which contained just nine overs' cricket, it is still far too early to tell if Paul Horton's 225-minute 49 not out will come to be classed as the patient vigil which set up Lancashire's first Championship win of the season. All we can assert is that the opener's patient skill helped Lancashire build a 68-run first-innings lead and that at least one or two Durham batsmen will need to exhibit similar technical competence on the third day of this match if that lead is not to prove as decisive as it already appears in a low-scoring game.
The Durham top order may need a dollop of luck too. Horton was bowled by a no-ball when on 6 and dropped at slip on 11. When the ball is seaming around and swinging you need the breaks to go your way. However, Durham head coach Geoff Cook might be quietly reminding his players in the morning that it also helps if you don't attempt brainless slashes at balls that barely pitch on the cut strip. These conditions are difficult, but as Paul Collingwood, Luke Procter and Kyle Hogg have also proved, they are not unplayable. They just require a good technique, a sound temperament and a little good fortune. In other words, proper batting.
"The ball has swung," Horton said. "But I think on this pitch it's also seamed against the swing. If both seam and swing go the same way, you can line it up. If one goes one way and the other another, that's quite tough. Graham Onions was seaming the ball both ways at good pace, which was tough. Luke Procter swung the ball both ways for us, which made it tough as well. The bowlers who have had most success in this game have moved the ball both ways in their own fashion."
The facts of the day are briefly told. Lancashire's last two wickets added 29 runs to the overnight total, Hogg making a resourceful 33 before being snared by Steve Harmison, and Onions taking Simon Kerrigan's wicket to finish with 5 for 43. The Durham seamer may not win his ninth Test cap next Thursday but he has looked an international cricketer in this match. The England selectors have a severe embarrassment of seam-bowling riches. Durham's second innings lasted just three balls before the rain, which had delayed the start of play until 3.30pm, began scudding across the ground once again. This time it did not relent.
Yet the day carried enough historical significance to have more than one Lancastrian eminence grise reminisicing about the exploits of Winston Place and Jack Ikin. Horton is only the sixth Lancashire batsman since the war to carry his bat through a completed innings and the first to manage it since Alec Swann achieved the feat against Hampshire at Old Trafford in 2002. However, he has a long way to go before equalling the remarkable exploits of RG Barlow, who batted through 11 innings. In 1882 Barlow opened the innings and was 5 not out when Lancashire were dismissed for 69. When he was becalmed for 34 minutes on 11, a similar statistical notoriety seemed to lie in wait for Horton.
"I can't remember if I've carried my bat before, but I didn't want to carry it for 11 not out," he said. "It was just about playing my way. I wanted to get over the new ball and see if we could build a lead. I thought Kyle played well, so did Luke Procter and even Simon Kerrigan hung around. Everyone chipped in. It doesn't matter what I get, it's what the team does."
Just so, of course. And the question Durham supporters will be asking on the third morning is whether their own batsmen can apply themselves with the self-discipline that will be required if they are to escape from the bottom of the table.