Paul Edwards is a freelance cricket writer. He has written for the Times, ESPNcricinfo, Wisden, Southport Visiter and other publications
Durham 88 for 0 (Young 45*) lead Warwickshire 87 (Raine 5-9, Wood 3-28) by one run
Going home is always a risk. "Will people remember me?" a returning traveller asks. "Will they remember me only too well," is occasionally the next question. Somehow, though, such undertakings are not so perilous in the North East. Loyalties are so deep-rooted in this part of England that they can never quite be betrayed; when people come back it is often seen as a natural progression. And it is for days like this that the Sunderland-born pair Scott Borthwick and Ben Raine returned to Durham and to the places they love best of all.
In truth Borthwick had little to do except toss a coin, choose to field, rotate his seamers and take a slip catch. Raine, on the other hand, can rarely have bowled more effectively than he did when taking his first five wickets for two runs in 28 balls as Warwickshire's batters struggled dreadfully on a pitch containing fewer demons than their response suggested. Helped by Mark Wood, who was playing his first Championship match since September 2018, Raine dismissed five of the top eight in the visitors' order as Will Rhodes' side subsided to 87 all out. And just to complete a day that could barely have gone better for Borthwick, Alex Lees and Will Young overhauled that total just before the close.
All these delights for home supporters were delayed by a substance rarely seen at cricket grounds this April: the soft refreshing rain beloved of the hymnist Jane Montgomery Campbell who, in 1862, loosely translated Matthias Claudius's harvest lyric "Wir pflügen und wir streuen" into, "We plough the fields and scatter". Play did not start until noon and an hour later Warwickshire's batters returned to the pavilion for lunch perhaps wondering why there had been such a rush. Surely mid-June would have been early enough?
If so, it was a good point, well made. The portents for the innings looked grim as early as the fourth over when Rob Yates had his off stump smacked back by a ball from Wood that kept spelunkingly low. Six overs later, after surviving a leg before shout that might have had Russell Warren's finger twitching, Hanuma Vihari was on his way when attempting to work Raine to leg. Two overs later, Rhodes attempted the same trick off the same bowler with the same thud into the pad. Just before lunch Matt Lamb was bowled when he played inside a ball from Wood that held its own. That left Warwickshire on 22 for 4 and one imagines the away dressing room was hardly a place of jollity and merriment.
The break in play did not interrupt the pattern of the game. Seven balls after the resumption Sam Hain played no stroke at a ball from Raine which tracked back just enough to hit his off pole. "Sam Hain's disdain was mainly tamed by Raine," murmured someone and suddenly we had a Broadway musical on our hands. But Durham's bowlers, like the big ships for which a big river in this land was once famous, were not to be diverted or delayed. Lerner and Loewe would have to wait their turn.
For the collapse was in full spate. Michael Burgess, Danny Briggs and Tim Bresnan all departed for five runs in the space of four overs, and only Briggs, who chipped a catch to Chris Rushworth at mid-on, deviated from the fast-established pattern. At this point in the early afternoon, all sorts of feats were noted and all manner of records threatened. Raine's figures read 6.3-5-2-5 and Warwickshire were 30 for 8, in danger of recording their lowest total since they were skittled by 'Charlie' Blythe and Frank Woolley at Tonbridge in 1913 or by Bill Copson at Derby in 1932.
Instead of such mighty dramatics we had a sensible partnership between Craig Miles and Liam Norwell, whose batting was uncluttered by subtlety or stylish pretension. Good balls were left alone if possible; pitched-up deliveries were driven or pulled into the deep field. Over an hour passed and 52 runs were added before Miles edged Brydon Carse to Borthwick at slip and Norwell nicked the same bowler to Poynter. The total of 87 was Warwickshire's lowest against Durham but somehow it seemed like abundance. Raine finished the piece with 5 for 9 from 13 overs.
The end of Warwickshire's innings was immediately followed by the tea and the realisation that 45 overs were still to be bowled. What followed in the evening might do just as much to determine the shape of the match as the dramatics of the first two sessions.
Perhaps it has. Lees is now well-established and well-regarded at the Riverside, perhaps rather more so than he was at Headingley. His unbroken stand of 88 with Young offered Warwickshire's batters a close-up view of what can be achieved on this pitch by tight techniques and discrimination. This latter quality allowed the openers to climb into the loose stuff sent down, most egregiously by Craig Miles. Norwell and Oliver Hannon-Dalby, by contrast, rarely leaked runs but their side is already deep in trouble. Beating Essex may seem straightforward when compared to getting anything but the odd bonus point out of this game.