Tuesday, 7 August 2012

Durham threaten significant first innings lead after day one

Durham will be much the happier of the two sides after day one as they closed just ten runs behind Surrey with six first innings wickets in hand after a very competitive day's cricket.

Chris Adams sprung something of a surprise by dropping his marquee overseas signing, Murali Kartik, for this game along with Chris Jordan as Tim Linley and Matthew Spriegel were preferred. It begs the question, why was Gareth Batty left out for the Guildford match if he was preferred to Kartik here? Some more confusing selections to ponder from Surrey.

On the field Batty won yet another toss and he went against the grain in choosing to bat first. Only once has a side won the toss and chosen to bat first at the Riverside this season. Interestingly that one instance has resulted in by far the biggest first innings total there this season, but that innings aside teams batting first have averaged a total of just over 122 runs.

Batty's rationale was that this pitch is only going to deteriorate, time will tell if he was right. Surrey duly delivered a score just a fraction above par, all out for 129. The opening overs saw some attritional cricket, after five had been bowled just six runs were on the board and although Ansari edged behind for just one in the sixth over, the first 20 saw just one Surrey wicket fall and the opening exchanges seemed to have gone the way of Surrey.

However we slipped from a positive 41-1 to a depressing 80-7 as seven wickets fell in 16 overs. Again the senior batsmen in the side disappointed massively, Davies and de Bruyn mustering just 12 runs between them. A run out in the final over before lunch was also terribly disappointing cricket. Arun Harinath showed good application and the tail cobbled together 50-or so runs, but ultimately it was some high quality, disciplined bowling (and a couple of questionable shots) which won the innings for Durham.

Surrey will have had those low Riverside totals in mind when the home side began their reply, and it was positive for the visitors before too long. Dernbach had Stoneman caught in the third over and although another 13 overs passed without a wicket Durham were not getting away. Three wickets then fell in ten overs to leave Durham 58-4 and Batty would've had hopes of a possible slender first innings lead. However Benkenstein and Collingwood, using all the experience of almost 470 first class matches between them, wrested control back with an unbeaten 61 run partnership.

There was some uneven bounce in the pitch, as early as the ninth over balls were shooting through seemingly without bouncing, and others were bouncing sharply. Batting last, as Durham will be, won't be an easy task but first we have to restrict the first innings lead. With only Mustard and Borthwick as batsmen to come early wickets will bring Surrey right back into the game. But if Collingwood and Benkenstein are allowed to bed in again, we may not get a chance to test their batting a second time round.

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