Harvey Hosein sets tone for Derbyshire defiance as Durham face tough victory push
Late declaration sets visitors 374 to win, after Rushworth completes another Durham five-for
Derbyshire 267 (Madsen 76, Hosein 63, Rushworth 6-58) and 10 for 0 need another 374 runs to beat Durham 475 (Bedingham 257, Burnham 75, Conners 5-83) and 175 for 2 dec (Lees 78*, Bedingham 53*)
This feels like a game that Durham need to win. Nobody expected them to beat the champions, Essex, last week, but they came mightily close. Derbyshire are a different matter, just the sort of opponents to help Scott Borthwick, a new captain who has returned to his roots, experience that winning feeling. It would be even more dispiriting not to win this one.
Durham might have dominated this match, but after three days they cannot be entirely confident of victory. They managed five overs at Derbyshire on the third evening, but failed to get a wicket to get the show on the road. Derbyshire will resume on 10 for 0, needing another 374 for victory, and acting as spoilers is not beyond them on a lifeless, if somewhat inconsistent, surface.
This was a featureless day, professional enough but with little to commend it in terms of entertainment. A cutting north-easterly wind was equally uninviting. Derbyshire have known many third days like this: up against it, sticking at it, surviving as best they can. County members are understandably desperate to see some live cricket, but those who passed the time potting their dahlias had few reasons to be aggrieved.
Behind the game or not, much of the individual satisfaction rested with Derbyshire players, particularly Harvey Hosein who survived a half-chance to slip on 21 to complete a fourth successive half-century and is finally ensconced, belatedly perhaps, as their first-choice Championship keeper, having had to concede opportunities in recent seasons to the likes of Gary Wilson and Daryn Smit. Three of those fifties - against Warwickshire and then two against Worcestershire - were unbeaten so he finds himself with a palatable Championship average of 140.
Hosein is not entirely lacking wicketkeeping competition. His Championship understudy, Brooke Guest, a recent acquisition from Lancashire, is playing in this match as a specialist batter and made a career-best 37. Durham also missed a chance to dismiss him, on 15, when he was sent back by Hosein, but Ben Raine's throw to the bowler's end was well off target. Durham will hope these fleeting opportunities do not come back to haunt them as victory chances diminish tomorrow evening.
Neither innings could be rated as memorable, but they were worthy enough and their seventh-wicket stand of 83 in 25 overs helped Derbyshire keep Durham in the field for 83 overs before their innings came to a halt at 267.
Their partnership was necessary when Wayne Madsen, the likeliest thorn in Durham's side, was dismissed without adding to his overnight 76. Paul Coughlin forced some unexpected bounce out of a docile surface and Madsen, shovelling to leg, popped a leading edge into the off side.
Few Durham bowling days take place without Chris Rushworth claiming attention in some form and two more wickets completed the 27th five-for of his first-class career. He is now the second highest wicket-taker in Durham's history and, barring mishaps, he will soon pass the man at the top of the list, Graham Onions. The assumption here is that he is good for many years yet, a bowler reliant on guile not pace, and that one day he will be receiving the same sort of recognition for longevity currently lavished upon Kent's Darren Stevens. All that was on his mind, though, was the immediate future. "Fingers crossed that tomorrow's the day," he said.
With a lead of 208, and 52 overs to bat, the best Durham could hope for appeared to be an overnight declaration. That eventuality seemed even likelier when the New Zealand batter, Will Young, who is still to make a score of note in his three-match deal, dragged on a front-foot drive at a wide length ball, and Borthwick, having successfully swept Matt Critchley's leg spin to the fence in the previous over, fell lbw attempting a repeat.
Young made his Test debut for New Zealand late last year and, when he signed, Durham's director of cricket, Marcus North, observed that his cricket was "in a good place." It might well have been, but it appears that good place was in New Zealand. If anybody can explain the financial, developmental or human sense of short-term deals like this during a Covid pandemic and when the county game is mired in debt, please write to the usual address.
Alex Lees and David Bedingham stepped up the pace with an unbroken stand of 92 off 18 overs, helped by 21 overs of spin from Critchley and Madsen which went for five an over. The declaration came as a surprise to this observer, if not the two sides, but Durham have not won in nine matches and they need to end that run while Borthwick's return keeps optimism high.
David Hopps writes on county cricket for ESPNcricinfo @davidkhopps