An insipid effort from Durham’s batsmen in a rain-reduced match at the Emirates ICG was ruthlessly punished by Worcestershire, who lost wickets but still looked comfortable in their pursuit of 91 target to win by 7 wickets with almost 3 overs to spare.
Four and a half hours after play was supposed to start, some cricketers emerged from the pavilion. Covers had been flapping on and off all day. Jack Shantry bowled, and Mark Stoneman pushed it for one. A 22-overs per side game was underway.
Durham had the best of the early exchanges, with Stoneman lofting an excellent shot into the leg side for four. Stoneman’s partner Phil Mustard struggled in the opening stages and after a cleanly struck drive behind the bowler, Mustard hared his way to the non-striker’s end; Stoneman was unmoved, and Mustard was gone.
Both batsmen were at the same end as Ben Cox leisurely knocked off the bails.
Cox then took a magnificent diving catch off Shantry to remove Graham Clark, and he was forced to take evasive action to avoid being hit by Stoneman’s bails when Ed Barnard bowled the Durham opener beautifully for 29.
The hosts slipped further into chaos when Keaton Jennings lofted a tame shot to Rhodes at mid-off, finally bringing Scott Borthwick to the crease at number six.
The man widely tipped to replace Nick Compton at three in the England Test side lasted only five balls, chopping on to his stumps for one off Chris Russell’s first delivery. The England selectors may have already made their minds up about the line-up for the first Pakistan Test, but Borthwick will no doubt rue missing an opportunity to restate his claim with Compton’s latest dismissal fresh in the memory.
Pringle and Collingwood held out for a while, until the former chipped an easy return catch to Brett D’Oliveira’s second ball. MacLeod whacked Chris Russell high up into the air for the seventh wicket, and Paul Coughlin was caught behind for a career-best 3 for the eighth.
When Collingwood chipped Leach up in the air, he was already halfway back to the pavilion by the time Russell took the catch: a further sign, if any was needed, that Worcestershire had put together such a slick and professional performance in the field that there was no chance of a drop.
Brett D’Oliveira finished the rout by aiming a delivery vaguely at Rushworth’s stumps, and it wasn’t long before the Pears openers were back out for the chase.
They lost Tom Kohler-Cadmore early on, shuffling across his stumps with an eye on smashing Rushworth over mid-on, and Joe Leach was bowled after edging the same bowler for four to the fine leg boundary (seconds after the fielder had been brought in).
After the second wicket, Worcestershire treated the bowling with more respect, but it did not prevent Joe Clarke losing his stumps to Rushworth, who picked up his third in the match.
The valour of Durham’s seamers was strikingly at odds with the frightened-rabbit-esque display from their batsmen.
A miraculous recovery was not to be, however, as a loose over from Usman Arshad released some pressure, and the Pears were ably steered to victory by D’Oliveira and Alexei Kervezee. The pair of Pears were impressively unflappable in their 60-run partnership for the fourth wicket, after Rushworth ran out of overs.
Durham are now one from three in the One-Day Cup, while Worcestershire fans can start thinking seriously about a place in the quarter finals.