Durham dig in despite Collingwood absence
Durham 127 for 4 (Shantry 2-22) v Worcestershire
Incoming captain Paul Collingwood was left on the sidelines as Durham's under-fire batting line-up tiptoed into a new era against Worcestershire, in a clash between Division One's bottom two sides. With Collingwood forced to delay his return from a broken hand, Durham made 127 for 4 in 42 overs after stand-in skipper Dale Benkenstein had lost the toss.
Worcestershire backed up their decision to field first with two wickets each for Alan Richardson and Jack Shantry, but Durham did receive some plaudits for the way they coped with tricky conditions in the morning. Richardson marked his return from injury with a good delivery that Will Smith steered to Moeen Ali at third slip and he might have enjoyed a further success when Gordon Muchall was missed behind the wicket after starting with two boundaries.
With Richardson in particular moving the ball around, Muchall and Mark Stoneman got through to lunch in a partnership that was worth 63. The afternoon was then interrupted by showers but when play resumed, Vikram Solanki ran back from first slip to hold an awkward chance when Stoneman top-edged a pull off Richardson.
Left-arm seamer Shantry made an impression in his second spell as Muchall edged to Daryl Mitchell at second slip and a yorker stopped Ben Stokes in his tracks after the positive left-hander had hit four fours in making 22. With only two more overs bowled after Stokes' dismissal, the downpours became heavier and more persistent until the umpires, Steve O'Shaughnessy and Martin Saggers, abandoned play for the day at 5.45pm.
Benkenstein, leading the side in the Championship for the first time since April last year, was still there on 16 not out, with Michael Richardson yet to score.
Losing more than half a day was frustrating for two counties who have yet to win a Championship game this season. After qualifying for the Friends Life t20 quarter-finals, Worcestershire are perhaps looking a more settled outfit but at bottom-of-the-table Durham Collingwood's appointment as captain is just one of several changes.
The last week has seen the retirement of opening batsman Michael Di Venuto, twice a Championship winner in five years in the north-east, and the temporary release of former England fast bowler Steve Harmison on a month's loan to Yorkshire. Supplementing the squad will be South African allrounder Johann Myburgh, who has signed a contract until the end of the season after impressing in the county's Twenty20 campaign.