Durham destroy sorry Surrey

LVCC Division One Thursday 22nd – Sunday 25th August
After a poor run of results Durham returned to winning ways at Chester le Street, Chesterthrashing big spenders Surrey by an innings and 144 runs and climbing to second place in the County Championship Division One table. The win was only in doubt due to the unsettled weather but a rain affected draw would have been a real get out of jail card for Surrey who were unable to compete with Durham from start to finish.
Following the excitement of the successful Ashes match it was back to the steady pace of County cricket at the Riverside. On winning the toss Surrey captain Gareth Batty surprisingly turned down the opportunity to bat first and stuck the home side in to bat.

This soon looked like a poor decision as Durham ended Day one in a commanding position at 309 for 5. Scott Borthwick has excelled in the no 3 batting spot this season and he came up with the goods again, scoring 135 before being harshly given out LBW to a ball that looked to be missing leg stump. Will Smith weighed in with a score of 87 to continue his much improved recent form. Surrey’s bowlers toiled away for little reward, the exception being tall fast bowler Chris Tremlett who many had expected to be selected for the final Ashes test at the Oval which was taking place at the same time at Surreys home ground. He was overlooked in favour of Warwickshire all rounder Chris Woakes, a move which took media and fans alike by surprise. Tremlett gave England a reminder of his ability taking 5 wickets on the first day, he would finish the innings with figures of 96 for 8 wickets.

Durham were all out after lunch on Day 2 for 421 claiming maximum batting points.

It could be argued that Surrey needed the points more than Durham did, the London Chester2based side starting the game in the lower reaches of the table in the relegation mix, and still awaiting their first championship victory of the season. Despite spending the pre-season bragging about the quality of their squad and spending a fortune in cricketing terms they have again flattered to deceive. Splashing out on the signing of South African captain Graeme Smith was expected to see them in the title mix, Smith then picked up an injury and was sent home but they responding by recruiting Aussie legend Ricky Ponting for a period of time, when Ponting returned home they then recruited South African Hashim Amla, probably the most prolific international batsmen in the game over the last few years. Their other favourite policy involves picking off other smaller clubs best players by enticing them with offers of higher wages and the chance to live in London. In contrast to Durham they have failed to bring through any quality local players in recent times.

In Surrey’s innings their ageing side soon lost early wickets, quickly finding themselves Chester3four down. Seam bowler Jamie Harrison was restored to the Durham side after a promising spell of gams last season, the injured duo of regular bowlers Graham Onions and Callum Thorp making way. Jamie quickly took two wickets to stake his claim for a regular starting spot. Mark Wood then bowled new signing Hashim Amla with the first ball of his spell, the South Africa seemingly surprised by Woods extra pace, a great scalp for the fast bowler from Ashington. The Surrey innings struggled along with 6 wickets falling before rain and bad light ended Day Two a few hours early. Durham bowled Surrey out for a paltry 108 from 31 overs on Day 3, Harrison finishing the innings with figures of 31 for 5 in his comeback. Deutant Arshad who I don’t know a lot about looks the part already and took two wickets for nine runs.

The decision to ask Surrey to follow on was a straight forward one with time lost on Days Two and Three to rain delays. Surrey needed 312 in their second innings just to make Durham bat again.

I actually missed Saturdays play in favour of attending a match from the best league in theChester4 world at SJP. As usual the drinking before the match was the best part of the day. The difference between the make up of Newcastle United first eleven which contained no English qualified players on Saturday and Durham CCCs side which is mostly North East lads was stark.

Surrey faired little better in their second innings being bowled out on Day 4 for 169, meaning Durham won without needing their second innings. The game had been as one sided as Man City Newcastle last Monday night. Only Hashim Amla offered any resistance for Surrey scoring 89, their last six wickets falling in just nine overs. Mark Wood starred for Durham recording the best figures of his career, 44 for 5 including three wickets in four deliveries.

Leaders Yorkshire had already won their match against Notts, also taking maximum points and maintaining thir position at the top over Durham by 25 and a half points. Durham have a game in hand though, five games left and play Yorkshire next at Scarborough in the County Championship, a game that would be dubbed a six pointer if it was a football match. It now looks like the winner of the title will come from Durham or Yorkshire. Other results didn’t go as Surrey would have hoped, their relegation rivals Derbyshire beat Middlesex to win their second successive game and climb out of the relegation zone and Somerset draw with Warwickshire meaning the London side dropped to bottom spot in the table, an embarrassing situation for one of the biggest clubs in the league and probably the biggest spenders.

Not a great deal of drinking was done during this match, on Friday night we found a new bar on Chester Front Street (we have a kind of OCD thing going on needing to go to every bar during the season) but it was fairly disappointing, can’t even remember its name, just know it was upstairs, no one was in and it played club music. We also returned to what used to be Easy Street club and were surprised to see it had been converted into a grill house since we last went.

Durham then faced Surrey again on the Monday Bank holiday for their final match in the CB40, a dead rubber with both sides mathematically unable to qualify for the semi final stages. Durham had lost away games to Essex and Derbyshire the previous week, undoing their previous good work in the competition. Still the weather was good and Durham put on a good performance beating Surrey by 133 runs to complete a miserable trip for the travelling side. Will Smith made a career one day best score of 120 of just 79 balls in an uncharacteristically attacking knock he hit five sixes to help Durham to a total of 275 for 5. Surrey could only muster 142 in reply and were all out long before they had used up their allotted overs, spin bowlers Gareth Breeze picking up four for 33 and Scott Borthwick three for 41.

All rounder Ben Stokes was called up for England’s upcoming one day series against the Aussies.

Durham’s next home game is against Sussex in early September but the biggy is next week at Scarborough. Win that and we are in pole position. Lose it and er, we’re not.