Durham rookies deliver on Collingwood's declaration of intent
Durham 411 (Borthwick 134, Collingwood 97, Bailey 5-110, Jarvis 3-86) and 239 for 4 dec (Borthwick 103*, Stoneman 62) beat Lancashire 326 (Hameed 74, Petersen 61, McCarthy 5-70) and 251 (Livingstone 60*, Carse 3-38, Weighell 3-45) by 73 runs
The late Richie Benaud once mused about the distinction between a closure and a declaration. The former, he argued, was a statement of brute strength whereas the latter was a challenge. When Paul Collingwood ended Durham's innings on the final morning of this game, there was little doubt that he had declared.
To clinch their third win in four Division One matches this season, Lancashire would need to score 325 runs in 96 overs or fewer, an asking rate of only 3.385 runs per over. Collingwood's tactical daring came as something of a surprise; this is a cautious age, one in which captains have often called off the dogs too late, their reluctance fuelled by fear of defeat and the opprobrium of those supporters who rarely praise a declaration when their team has lost.
So when Graham Onions swung the final ball of the match deliciously past Simon Kerrigan's groping bat at 4.39pm and uprooted the off stump, it represented a marvellous vindication of Collingwood's courage and nous in giving his inexperienced attack the time to take ten wickets on a pitch good enough for one joyously talented cricketer, Scott Borthwick, to score two centuries.
Yet Durham's captain will also take pleasure in the fact that his trust in his younger seam bowlers was repaid. Onions took the second and last wickets but his line was awry for most of this last day and his 15 overs leaked 65 runs. It was Brydon Carse and James Weighell who did the heavy work for Collingwood's side, their callow enthusiasm proving an asset against the carelessness of Lancashire's battle-hardened batsmen. This was a day when grizzled veterans were no match for inexperienced freshmen.
Indeed, the fact that Lancashire even took the game into the final session was due to the technical skill and good judgement of 22-year-old Liam Livingstone, whose unbeaten 60 rather shamed his senior colleagues. After making his debut against Nottinghamshire, Livingstone has now passed fifty in three of his five innings. He has looked for the most part, commendably untroubled by county attacks and his assured innings, particularly during his 56-run stand for the ninth wicket with Kyle Jarvis, must have given Collingwood far more concern that the forecast rain which, rather like Billy Bunter's postal order, never arrived.
Yet in the first few overs of Lancashire's innings it seemed likely that the more recreant and faithless home supporters might be ready to collect faggots for a bonfire on which to burn an effigy of Shotley Bridge's most famous son. Though Weighell had nailed Haseeb Hameed lbw with a full length ball that eluded the opener's forward push, Karl Brown fed greedily on the attacking lengths bowled by Weighell and Onions.
Indeed, after five overs Lancashire were 46 for 1 and their rate of progress had so offended the Riverside's infrastructure that the ground's best scoreboard threw a tantrum and froze so rigidly on 20 for 1 that it had to be turned off for a few hours. It barely mattered; the damn thing had flirted with utter uselessness for much of the game and it is not as though Chester-le-Street is hosting a Test match next week…
But if mere technology was failing Durham, common humanity was doing the club proud. Having hit nine fours in his 26-ball 41, Brown played across the line once too soon to Onions and became the first of five top-order batsmen to get to 20, with only Livingstone going on to make the substantial contribution his side needed. Collingwood, meanwhile, tolerated both Onions's failure to control his swing and the poor deliveries sent down by his younger bowlers with admirable phlegm. He simply rotated his attack astutely and this worked for him when the second- and third-change seamers took three wickets in 16 deliveries in the half-hour before lunch
The most culpable batsman was probably Alviro Petersen, who failed to take into account the extra bounce on this pitch and cut Carse to Keaton Jennings at backward point. Throwing your head back when you are out, as Petersen did, is all very well; getting your nut over the ball when playing a shot is the better plan. In his next over Carse tempted Luke Procter into a half-drive and Borthwick at second slip made a two-handed catch look beguilingly simple. Five minutes later Steven Croft's cut to a lifting ball from Barry McCarthy gave Richardson the first of his three catches and left Lancashire on 97 for 5.
The batting after lunch showed greater resolve but until Jarvis joined Livingstone it did not promise to alter the game's pattern. Durham's bowling was poor immediately after the resumption and Alex Davies added 67 with Livingstone before chasing a wide ball from Weighell and nicking a catch behind. Tom Bailey then fenced at a lifter from Carse, and Neil Wagner was caught by Jennings at short leg off Borthwick, the ball rebounding off the fielder's boot.
Then, as if to toy with the hopes of visiting supporters, Jarvis and Livingstone played straight to the good balls and profited from the bad for nearly an hour. There are times when batting is that simple. Lancastrian hopes of a famous triumph probably rose when Livingstone pulled Ryan Pringle for successive sixes but they were quickly extinguished by Jennings's very sharp short-leg catch to remove the obstinate Jarvis for 28.
That brought Kerrigan to the wicket. Three overs later Lancashire's chances of victory were hanging from the gallows tree.