Captain’s Log Durham 1999: Part 3

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While we wait for the the ECB to announce the new TV rights – anyone else expect a Sky monopoly with a few ‘free’ games on Sky Mix thrown in? – here’s part 3 of Dave Black’s adventures on International Cricket Captain …

The first match should have been a win. It’s not unreasonable to expect us to take at least one wicket in the final session on a fourth day pitch but for whatever reason, we had to settle for a draw. Now we welcome Hampshire to Fortress Riverside (we’ll see how long that lasts) for round two of the Championship. Somebody clearly has never visited Durham in April as it looks like a belter four days weather-wise.

I’m tempted to bring in a fifth bowler, if it’s hot my four seamers will tire quicker and let’s face it, we’re going to have to bowl at some point. John Morris averages 7 but he gets a stay of execution because Nick Speak averages 4, I know it’s only over 2 innings but I want to include the right arm off-spin of Nicky Phillips who slots in at 8. He’s an all-rounder supposedly and although I’m not expecting it to be a massive turner, if he can score more than 4 and bowl then he’s a winner in my eyes.

Hampshire have Robin Smith who is clearly their star man with the bat, but they’ve only named four bowlers (2 of which are all-rounders) though one is a young Dimitri Mascarenhas, going here by his Sunday name of Adrian. Nixon McLean and Peter Hartley are a fearsome new ball combination, though Hartley is 39 so hopefully he tires quickly in the Chester-le-Heatwave

If we win the toss, we’ll bat. However, I call heads and such is chance, it’s tails. So we’ve got to bowl. Good job I picked a spinner, he’ll be useful on day one on a flat track…

I don’t remember Jason Laney but he smacks the first ball of the innings for four. I sigh and fear the worst, but he tries to repeat the trick second ball and is caught in the slips by Phillips. See, it was worth picking him after all. That brings in Robin Smith who at 35 still has plenty to offer. He’s the danger man but I have no plan to remove him. Stephenson is starting to get comfortable as well, before reaching the 30s and seemingly getting the yips. He’s dropped at first slip off Betts but then Foster clean bowls him. By lunch though Smith has an unbeaten 50 whilst William Kendall has 24. Kendall looks a bit like TV Doctor Christian Jessen…

After lunch Smith moves serenely to 70 but then out of nowhere Harmison gets one to nip back and it pins him LBW. What’s annoying though is that Hampshire’s batsmen seem to be able to build partnerships at ease, Giles White joins Kendall and the pair add a chanceless 65 before the good Doctor is bowled by Foster. How embarrassing.

Hants are 250/4 at tea, but my spirits are lifted when we’ve got them reduced to 299/7 shortly after the restart. However we soon revert to type and after Foster traps Morris LBW to ‘reduce’ them to 337/8, you’ll understand why I am livid they ended up with 468. Nixon McLean made 22 and even Peter bloody Hartley scored 34 before being bowled by Foster. The monster Masc is unbeaten on 75. What a mess we’ve made of this.

The only positive to take is that we achieved maximum bowling points. So, with a huge score to chase down, what you don’t need is John Lewis being clean bowled for a 2nd ball duck. David Boon tries to hit his way out of trouble and is bowled for 10, whilst John Morris is run out. Yes, run out. I’ll let you decide – was a quick single ever on here?

So after 4.1 overs, we’re 19/3. I’d love to say a great recovery then took place but it didn’t. We were 6 down by lunch and we crawled to 156 all out. We’re following on. The only saving grace is that Phillips top scored with 58 and outscored the entire top 6 combined, which means this completely is not my fault.

We need 312 to make Hants bat again – which means we need about 500 to make it competitive. There’s more chance of Boony winning slimmer of the year than that. We reach 82 at the close of day two, but for the loss of both openers.

Incredibly, something stirs inside us overnight. Let’s call it pride. Morris and Daley share a 100 partnership before Morris is bowled for 44. It’s a shame but it’s not single figures so he’s buzzing. Daley gets to 65 but then edges McLean behind and we’re 174/4. The moustachioed Martin Speight musters 1 run and Colly adds 5 to leave us on 198/6 at lunch on day three. It’s going to be over by tea time.

As if to prove me wrong on purpose, Michael Foster scores a brave 73, assisted by Phillips (21) and Betts (17) but once Foster is out 2 overs before tea, Brown and Harmison decide to survive until the fifth ball after tea. We scored 300, 12 shy of making them bat again, and I ask you, why couldn’t you have batted like this in the first innings?

It’s a disgraceful performance but for some reason Foster is awarded man of the match. 4 wickets and a half century is enough, apparently

That drops us to 14th and gives us a lot to think about

We do however win against Middlesex in the National League…Phillips took 3 wickets and Lewis scored an unbeaten 106. Wow. It’s Kent next, so please do join me. We might do better.

Dave Black

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