Yesterday's fine sunny morning saw me heading for The Riverside for Durham's 'must win' 50 over game with Derbyshire. The resounding defeat by Yorkshire at Scarborough having effectively ended their championship hopes, and just about everybody else's, coupled with a fairly dismal performance in the T20 has left the Royal London cup as Durham's only hope of silverware for 2015. They are of course holders of the trophy and in yesterday's eleven there were seven survivors from the team that won at Lord's last September. The absentees were Jennings, in the squad but not selected, Stokes, playing football at The Oval, Breeze, retired and Coughlin, injured.
In front of a good crowd Derbyshire won the toss and fielded and, at least to start with, how they fielded. After Stoneman and Mustard had given Durham a brisk start the former went to an excellent catch by Godelman and then Borthwick, who had looked in good touch, was run out by a piece of work from Footitt that was of the highest quality; a brilliant stop then the wicket thrown down with what we assumed was his 'wrong arm'. Enter Richardson, above Collingwood to my surprise, and he went onto make fifty without hitting a four, but there was some excellent running between the wickets to compensate and he and Collingwood soon put together a fifty partnership.
Derbyshire continued to field like terriers and both MacLeod and Pringle perished to run outs, although both might have been guilty of rather lazy running. At 182 for 8 the south west cognoscenti feared a score of under 200 but it was at this point that Derbyshire's fielding fell apart with at least four, possibly five, catches going down, to the delight of the home crowd and the dismay of six men in fezzes, a traditional form of headgear in Derbyshire I understand. Muchall, who has so often shored up the Durham tail this season and Rushworth put on an unbeaten 65 to bring the final score to 247 for 8, a total we agreed was 'defendable'.
And so it proved, for Derbyshire could rarely get their rate above four, and Onions, Rushworth, Hastings and Collingwood were all difficult to get away. The last of the quartet for example bowled his ten overs without a break and finished with 2 for 37. Not bad for someone who can see forty approaching. While Madsen was at the crease Derbyshire had a chance but when he went for 77 the die was cast and when the skiers went up they fell into, and stayed in, the safe hands of Muchall and Borthwick.
Derbyshire's batsmen come and go
Yesterday's result sees Durham in the last quarter final qualifying place in their division but one where they can be overtaken by Northants who play their last match at Headingley today. Durham need help from their neighbours or the weather. The latter is doing its best for it is a wet morning in the Lower Ure Valley and the covers are on in LS6. I am in a state of readiness to make the journey but not overly optimistic for play at the moment.