Way, way back, when dinosaurs ruled the earth and I was fresh faced and young, this season began and I played Durham. They defiled us by 10 wickets. Which is interesting as, with four games of this never ending season to go, we now have the chance of redemption.
We travel to the cathedral splendour of the north, after having been decimated by an innings by Worcestershire last time out.
They are third. We are fifth. We win here or we’re basically done.
They’re 16 points ahead. We’ll need 47 to catch Middlesex in second. This season has not quite slipped away over the horizon, but it’s certainly peeping the brow of that particular rise…
In the sort of news that will see me ushered into an early grave, I lose both Phillip Salt and Luke Wells. Salt is gone for a month to back knack, Wells three weeks with knee knack.
I’m not …
I’m not …
… pleased. I use the full repertoire of the bad words.
Tom Haines, aged 21, and Laurie Evans, somewhat at the other end of the scale at 32, come into the side to shore up the batting.
Additionally, I take a punt on George Munsey (again). He’s been outstanding in the One Days and his bowling will help out immensely. The fact that he averages 19.33 in first class and 52.57 is as baffling as it is infuriating.
George Garton is the man to make way. As he is averaging 33.07 with the ball.
Which is just infuriating.
Also averaging things the wrong way round is Stuart Meaker, who is taking wickets at 46.70. He gets the boot to the danglies this deserves, and Aaron Thomason comes in to make his season’s County Championship debut after also excelling in the One Dayers.
The August weather looks set fair and, in a genuinely surprising turn of events, I win the toss.
I bat. I want to grind these boys to dust on their own patch. I want to score the sort of weight of runs which will bear down on their throats till they choke on them.
My player for London Blue, Mark Wood, takes the new cherry.
He makes a decent start, which is me flirting with understatement. His nagging line brings Evans forward in the second over and the veteran edges to Cameron Bancroft. Gone for 2. 5-1
Not quite what I had in mind.
Stiaan van Zyl comes in at 3 and I settle in to watch him grind the northerners down.
However, I reckon without Matt Salisbury who sends one across him and keeper Stuart Poynter takes the catch. 12-2
I stare across at the river and consider drowning my top order in it.
Haines has been going for 28 balls and failed to get it away. When he’s on 6, he chips it to the leg side where Alex Lees takes the catch off Ben Raine. 36-3
But the good news* is that Ravi Bopara is heading out to bat.
*This is not good news. This has never been good news this season. Ever.
We make it to 51 before Ravi decides to step into the corridor of uncertainty in order to ensure that Chris Rushworth’s fast medium pies hit on the back leg, and he is as plum as a plum cake made by the Sugarplum fucking Fairy. 51-3
Munsey has a chance to really earn his place here. He hits a boundary first ball.
He somewhat returns to his First Class form, however, by letting Rushworth uproot his off stump one ball later. 55-5
We are in the mire here. Again. And it’s not even lunch yet.
Ben Brown strolls to the wicket. Rushworth bowls. It bounces high, Brown fends and the ball squaffs to first slip where David Bedingham makes no mistake.
Rushworth has 3 for 4 in this over and we are 55-6 and dead in the Championship waters.
On the pavilion steps I sit bereft. There’s nothing to do.
As has been the case so often this season, I offer thanks to a deity I don’t believe in for David Wiese. He comes in and supports Travis Head with aplomb.
Head’s 50 arrives from 72 disciplined balls and we make it over the 100, which looked unlikely at one point.
As lunch approaches, Wiese is criminally dropped at first slip by Durham. It’s the only laugh I’ve had all day. “Get it up ye!” emanates from the steps of the pavilion. From someone.
131 for 6 at lunch.
The partnership between the Southern Hemisphere colleagues continues after the interval. At 151 their partnership of 96 becomes a new record. Which is nice.
Wiese makes his 50, progressing to 56 off 60 balls in the same over. That is quite a knock for a primary bowler. It makes the pathetic showing of our “real” batsmen look like… well, like something shit, which is what they have been.
The pair progress further, bringing up the 200. Head duly makes his century (103 from 130) and we are 212-6.
One over later, Head is cut off in his prime by Raine who bowls the slow one and tips the off peg out. It’s been a hell of a knock though, I can’t be mad.
Thomason continues where he left off in the short form of the game, but it is Wiese who falls next. His 79 from 104 has been exceptional and his nick to Poynter off Rushworth reasonable, considering he averages 34.30 with the bat ordinarily. 231-8
Mitchell Claydon soon gets the dead man’s finger, which is impressive as he’s already survived one appeal. 241-9
We make it to tea. Very surprising. Will Beer is on 13 and Thomason 28.
We’ve also now scored 2 bonus points to Durham’s 3, so that’s not too shabby either. 262-9
It can’t last.
And it doesn’t. First over after tea, Wood beats Thomason for pace and we are all out for 263.
It’s not bad from 55-6, and my campaign to have Wiese either receive the freedom of Brighton and Hove or have my babies remains in business.
Cameron Bancroft and Alex Lees are first up.
We make our plans and open with Aaron Thomason and Mitchel Claydon.
As Durham reach 13, Thomason takes Lees by surprise and traps him lbw.
Scotsman Scott Steel comes in and plays a barn storming innings. He moves to 54 off 51 balls, and Bancroft makes his half century off 93. 106-1
They are turning the screw already. Ouch.
They end day one 127-1.