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Les Smith at Chester-le-Street
August 22, 2013
Durham 309 for 5 (Borthwick 135, Tremlett 5-51) v Surrey
If anyone in the England camp takes a look at the scorecard from this game, it will be noted that Chris Tremlett, who missed out on selection for the fifth Test at The Oval, was the only name to feature in the Surrey wickets column. A five-for kept his team in touch against Durham and will provide further grist for those questioning England's decision-making.
That the home side were not too inconvenienced by Tremlett was largely down to the efforts of Scott Borthwick, a local lad who made his third first-class century of the season. England may well be interested in that, too.
Durham is a proudly local county cricket club. Every time an outsider visits Chester-le-Street the sense of community and the bond between supporters and players is tangible.
The man who leads them in their cricket, Geoff Cook, Durham's first captain in first-class cricket and now their coach, is a Middlesbrough native. Cook is recovering from a heart attack but the spirit he brought to the club after a career with Northamptonshire and England pervades the place. His captain, Paul Collingwood, born in Shotley Bridge, has been playing for them long enough now to be termed a stalwart, and nobody in Durham will hear a word said against him.
Borthwick and Will Smith, another who warrants acceptance as an adopted son, provided the runs that gave Durham cause for satisfaction at the end of a day which started with Surrey winning the toss and putting the opposition in. Whether Collingwood would have made the same decision as Gareth Batty had the coin landed the other way up is debatable, as his side entered the fixture with a depleted seam attack.
Borthwick, who has been capped three times in limited-overs cricket, is a Sunderland boy and Smith, while born in Bedfordshire, was educated at Durham University. Between them they contributed 222 runs to Durham's effort. Borthwick came to the wicket in the second over of the match after Tremlett had castled Mark Stoneman. Five hours later he had a hundred and until he was dismissed for 135 he never looked remotely vulnerable. He was tidy, compact, and seized on the loose ball to register 21 boundaries.
Smith joined Borthwick after a tumbling slip catch by Zander de Bruyn saw off a promising innings by Keaton Jennings, who added 69 with Borthwick. Then the pair dug in and built a partnership of 183 in a little over 50 overs. Smith fell 13 runs short of a century and Borthwick followed him just before the close of play.
Borthwick's innings leaps off the scorecard but look further down it and you find the other outstanding contribution. Tremlett might not have been expecting to play in this game, but he was released by England and made his way up the A1. His presence in the side might well have influenced Batty's decision to bowl first but, while the outcome at the end of the day might have disappointed, his faith in his bowler was justified.
Tremlett took all five wickets to fall, bowling off 17 precisely calibrated steps before leaping into a colossal delivery stride. His accuracy rarely wavered, as evidenced by an economy rate of 2.31 and the modes of dismissal: one bowled, two lbw, and two caught behind the wicket. It was a joy to watch and he will be a potent asset for England in Australia in the winter - though some will wonder if he could have been as effective in south London this week.
© ESPN Sports Media Ltd.
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