Durham 155 (Stoneman 57, Lilley 2-18) beat Lancashire 139 for 9 (Prince 78, Arshad 2-9) by 16 runs
The mellifluous tones of The Cure's Robert Smith boomed out from the loudspeakers but Lancashire fans clearly don't regard Friday in May as sufficient reason to fall completely in love with short-form cricket. A grey evening matching the gloom of the Crawley band's early albums probably explained the modest attendance of just under 4000 at Old Trafford.
Then again, maybe those who stayed away knew a thing or two. For instead of watching Lancashire chase down 155 in a fashion they have come to know rather well, the home supporters watched Durham's inexpensively assembled side defend that score and do so rather comfortably in the end as Steven Croft's men lost five wickets for four runs in eight balls.
That collapse left the last pair of George Edwards and Stephen Parry collecting singles of little consequence in the final over as Durham's players completed their second successive victory in this year's NatWest T20 Blast and their first in eight games against Lancashire.
The defeat may seem harsh on Ashwell Prince, who anticipated his 38th birthday next week by making a career-best 78 off 51 balls before he was run out by wicketkeeper Phil Mustard when his side needed 24 runs off ten balls. Prince, though, was never really given the support he needed from his colleagues. Alviro Petersen was the next highest scorer with 20 and Alex Davies was the only other batsman to reach double figures. Whereas Durham had been 91 for 2 at the midpoint of their innings, Lancashire had managed just 62 for 3 at the same stage and they then needed 34 off the last three overs.
There were no stars in Durham's attack but there were a lot of hard workers at the coalface of this game and the visitors deserved their win. The best bowler was probably legspinner Scott Borthwick, who conceded only 21 runs from four mid-innings overs delivered at a time when Lancashire were looking to put the hammer down. Yet Usman Arshad and John Hastings collected a couple of wickets apiece and there were three run-outs as Mark Stoneman's men maintained their mental discipline and gave away nothing at all.
Curiously, though, even as they reflect on their victory in the cool of Saturday morning Durham may still regard their innings as something of a missed opportunity. With skipper Stoneman and Paul Collingwood both batting well and without hazard the visitors had galloped to 105 for 2 in the 12th over but then lost their last eight wickets for 50 runs in just 8.1 overs. It was nothing like the collapse Lancashire achieved but it seemed significant at the time
That gradual decline from outright prosperity may have been particularly irritating for Stoneman, whose 57 was both a career-best short-form score and only his second half-century in T20 cricket. Certainly his 38-ball innings, which included three relatively orthodox boundaries off an Edwards over, seemed to have laid foundations for a total of about 180.
At the other end, Calum MacLeod employed cricket's favoured T20 demolition firm, Scoop, Ramp and Clobber, to damage Tom Bailey's figures, and when MacLeod had lost his middle stump trying to repeat the scoop off Jordan Clark, Collingwood maintained the innings' momentum by hitting 30 off 19 balls.
As so often in T20, though, spin changed the game. Offspinner Arron Lilley removed Collingwoood in his second over when a reverse sweep only dollied the ball to Davies behind the stumps and Lilley then dismissed Stoneman in his next when the wicketkeeper completed a stumping at something like the third attempt. Davies later stumped Borthwick but also missed at least a couple of other chances on an evening when his various accomplishments were trumpeted to all and sundry by a band of raucous supporters.
None of the missed opportunities in the second half of Durham's innings were costly. Only Gordon Muchall reached double figures and both Edwards and Bailey picked up a couple of wickets. Bailey, indeed, bowled Hastings, much as he had accounted for opener Mustard, with an outrageous slower ball which the batsman totally misjudged. The 24-year-old thus matched the chutzpah exhibited in an earlier era by Franklyn Stephenson and Chris Cairns.
That, though, rather encapsulated the nature of the contest. One remembered the individual excellence of Bailey, Prince and Lilley but it was Durham's band of hard-working cricketers who took the two points. "Let's Dance" the crowd were exhorted endlessly but neither they nor Croft's players ever showed their best moves. "Hi-ho" blared those loudspeakers at a volume to disturb the dead but it was Durham's eleven players who went off to work.