Borthwick cheer among Durham frustration
Durham 257 for 4 (Borthwick 89, Smith 81) trail Derbyshire 298 by 41 runs
Scott Borthwick defied a slow pitch, a slow outfield and rain after tea to become only the third Durham-born batsman to pass 1,000 runs in a season. But the conditions combined to undermine Durham's plan to achieve the victory that would make them odds-on to clinch the title
When Borthwick reached 44, he had something to celebrate on a personal level, despite the frustrating situation for his side. He became the first home-grown Durham player since Paul Collingwood in 2005 to have achieved the milestone and only the third Durham-born batsman to do so in the county's history, the other being Gary Pratt.
His success rewards Durham's decision to promote him to No. 3. Borthwick was a top-order batsman with bowling a secondary skill in the early part of his career and he opened for England Under-19s before switching his focus towards developing his legspin, only to find he was being required less frequently in that role.
"At junior levels I was always a batter who bowled a bit," Borthwick said. "As a legspinner you don't get many opportunities, especially at The Riverside where you can't get the ball out of the seamers' hands.
"That was the idea of going up the order, to give me a chance to contribute more and help the team by scoring runs. It has given an extra dimension to my game."
His 89 drove Durham along but at a very sluggish rate. The cricket was uninspiring to watch, the scoring remaining steadfastly below three runs per over, but Durham appeared content to grind their way towards a position from which they would at least avoid defeat, stepping up the pressure on Yorkshire to do better.
With so few opportunities left now for Yorkshire to claw back their lead, Durham are not exactly dismayed at the prospect of a draw. If the match at Hove has the same conclusion, Durham might even extend their lead.
That would depend on their claiming not only a third but a fourth batting point, which would be a tall order. But parity with Yorkshire this week and maintaining their 14 and a half-point advantage with two matches to go would suit them nicely, although having themselves bowled out Sussex twice for little more than a hundred each time last week, their confidence in Ed Joyce's team resisting Yorkshire cannot be particularly high.
Durham had hoped to give themselves a chance of winning, which they would have seen as possible, certainly, had they been able to push on towards a lead upwards of 180, perhaps, and unleashed Graham Onions and company to prey on Derbyshire's last-day nerves in their battle at the other end of the table.
At 227 for 2, such a scenario looked within their scope with Scott Borthwick and Will Smith making cautious but steady progress against Derbyshire's disciplined bowling. Mark Footitt's pace, combined with the consistency of Tony Palladino and Tim Groenewald, made them work hard for every run.
Yet at just the moment, after putting on 159 together, that Borthwick was beginning to eye up his fourth century of this year's Championship and Smith his third, both departed in the space of eight overs.
Borthwick, facing Shivnarine Chanderpaul's leg spin, swiped at a full toss and was caught at mid-on for 89, bringing to an end an innings spanning four hours. Smith, who had batted longer still for his 81, shaped to cut but changed his mind when he realised the ball Footitt had for him was not suited to the shot. He failed to get his bat out of the way and edged to second slip, where Tom Knight, fielding as substitute for the injured Richard Johnson, took a fine catch, diving to his right.
"The plan was to have batted big and got a lead maybe of a couple of hundred," Borthwick said. "But the ball was not coming on as well as we hoped it would and it was hard to score. Then I hit a full toss straight to mid-on and Will got a good one from Footitt.
"A draw would not be a bad result, though, and if we can get to 300, maybe 350, the extra points would be nice."