Some people may be surprised that I left the Roses match behind me on day two and instead travelled north for a day by the Riverside at Chester le Street to see Durham taking on Northamptonshire. Being of dual nationality (father from Yorkshire, mother from Durham) the northernmost county has always had a strong place in my affections and particularly this season after their stringent deduction of points following their enforced relegation. Durham need all the help they can get and nice to see John Winn travelling all the way to Swansea to support them. They came so near to victory in that game and surely their first victory must be just around the corner.
Unfortunately yesterday after being put in they were soon put out again. All out for just 166 with a career best bowling performance by young Nathan Buck, formerly with both Leicester and Lancashire, who took 6-34. Top scorer for Durham was Michael Richardson with only twenty seven, so a poor day for the batsman. Northants, without star man Ben Duckett, another absentee due to England Lions commitments, also struggled to 59-3 overnight. Why should counties loose their best players for tin pot matches such as this against a poor South Africa A team?
The overnight batsman were Max Holden, on loan from Middlesex, and Chesney Hughes who I remember seeing get a big double hundred for Derbyshire at Headingley some years ago. I had also seen Holden in action before captaining England under 19s against Sri Lanka at Northampton last season. Well today was to be his day, batting altogether for six and a quarter hours, before he was caught behind off Paul Collingwood for 124. This was his maiden first class century and he looks to have the same powers of concentration already shown by Lancashire's Hameed.
At almost the same time as Holden reached his century we learned that Adam Lyth had also done so at Headingley. Having been witness to a wedding party at the ground during the tea interval you could say it was a day of two centuries and a wedding. There was nearly a third century as Northants plundered the below strength Durham attack and Josh Cobb, unwilling to hang about in the nineties as Holden had done, took one swing too many and was well caught by Collingwood at slip for 96.
Rossington, yet another former Middlesex man, had given Holden good support earlier and made a quick fire 65 which really put the visitor's in the driving seat. Although the tail collapsed somewhat at the end with Paul Coughlin having excellent figures of 27-10-49-5 being easily the outstanding bowler of the day, Northants finished on 376 all out which was a lead of 210. Durham managed to cut the deficit slightly with a close of play score of 78-1, Jennings the man out, in the wonderful evening sunshine.
Indeed it had been a perfect day, not only the weather, but a goodish crowd spread around the entire ground, unlike Headingley with the Western Terrace still unpopulated, apparently due to stewarding concerns which do not seem to affect any other ground in the country. The whole atmosphere for watching cricket is so much more pleasant here, together with a walk in the park, alongside the river, together with ice cream during the lunch interval and picking up two excellent volumes at the wonderful second hand bookshop during the tea interval. What more could you ask for?
Well dinner with sister in law number one at a pleasant village pub half way home down the A1
provided a splendid end to the day as the birthday celebrations continue unabated!