Barker revives happy memories against Durham
Durham 50 for 3 trailWarwickshire450 (Barker 102*, Westwood 88, Patel 58, Onions 5-85 ) by 400 runs
To adapt the famous line from David Copperfield,, when it comes to playing against Durham, Barker is always willing.
Which is merely to say that Keith Barker is generally happy to see his name on Warwickshire's team-sheet for games against Paul Collingwood's boys. One can understand his joy. Before this current match, the 28-year-old allrounder's bowling average against them was a mere 13, roughly half what it is against all opponents. He also scored his maiden hundred against Durham at Edgbaston. And after a day's play which was reduced by rain and rumours of rain to a mere 26.4 overs, Barker had one more century and one more wicket against his favourite adversaries. Maybe he owns a few Lindisfarne albums, too.
There is sometimes a law of inverse proportions attached to watching cricket on wet days. The less you see, the more you treasure it, particularly if your patience has been tested through long hours of coffee and reminiscence. Indeed, the vivid and extraordinary rainbow, each of its seven colours sharply delineated, that appeared over the Rae Bank soon after the close seemed as good a symbol as any for a couple of hours' play which had been rich in entertainment and interest.
Durham's players will probably be having none of this. The only good things that came out of Monday's cricket as far as Collingwood's team was concerned were that Graham Onions took his first five-wicket haul since September 2013 and that they did not lose more than three wickets in a late evening session freighted with hazard. A score of 50 for 3 represents something of a reprieve for Durham going into the second half of this match. Even as it stands they are well behind in the match and may be happy if the showers return.
But let us return to Barker, who resumed on 86 when things got under way at four o'clock, this after all the morning and early afternoon rain had been mopped up. His cricket actually began poorly when a major mix-up with Jeetan Patel resulted in Patel being run out for 58. Then Richard Jones, having been dropped by Phil Mustard on 1 - a straight in, straight out, "sorry" affair - was caught by Keaton Jennings at point for 3 off the same bowler. John Hastings accounted for last man Boyd Rankin but not before he had stuck around while Barker reached the fifth first-class hundred of a career which might have earned him a little more than a single England Lions appearance.
This impression was reinforced when the former professional footballer had Jennings neatly caught by Varun Chopra at first slip off the final ball of the third over of the innings. That, though, was the second Durham wicket to fall, Mark Stoneman having lasted just six balls before he carelessly skied a hook straight to fine leg to where Rankin had made excellent ground from long leg to take a two-handed diving catch.
The loss of both openers left the visitors on 4 for 2 but the calm suggested by half an hour without another wicket falling was illusory. Having made 19, Scott Borthwick obligingly chipped Jones straight to Ian Westwood, who had been carefully placed at deep square leg a moment earlier.
That left Durham on 32 for 3 but Michael Richardson and Calum MacLeod survived without further mishap for a further five overs until 5.55pm. Then umpires Jeff Evans and Nigel Cowley took the players off because the thunderously dark clouds over Harborne were heading towards Edgbaston. Had it rained mightily, the umpires would have been praised for their good sense. Instead, though, no rain fell for maybe 20 minutes and they appeared a bit daft. We could, indeed, have had the curious notice on the electric scoreboard: Probable rain stops play. Eventually it did hammer down for five minutes or so but by then the cricket had been called off.
It didn't matter that much. The cricket we did see had offered some reward for the virtue of patience, and this on a ground just a few miles from Newman's Oratory was perhaps fitting.