After three rounds of the County Championship, there have been only three wins in Group 1. Durham have lost to Essex and drawn their other two games, whereas their opponents Warwickshire have been responsible for two of those victories.
There have been some good individual performances for Durham. Chris Rushworth has claimed 14 wickets, Brydon Carse 12 and Matt Salisbury 11. Ned Eckersley and Scott Borthwick have both recorded hundreds but the standout performer with the bat has been South African David Bedingham, who has so far compiled 565 runs at the somewhat absurd average of 141.
Warwickshire supporters, most of whom wear their pessimism as a badge of honour, are starting to feel the faint stirrings of something that they can barely recognise as hope. The side had a dismal 2020 season, with no wins in the Bob Willis Trophy and failure also in white ball cricket. But they have displayed a new-found resilience in coming from behind with two successful last day run chases against Notts and Essex.
The Bears seem to have found a good blend of youth and experience. Tim Bresnan and Danny Briggs are proving to be excellent acquisitions. And with the bat, 21 year old university student Rob Yates played a masterly knock of 120 not out in a superbly judged match winning effort against the formidable Essex attack. He has been well supported by Matt Lamb, Sam Hain and captain Will Rhodes.
The Bears’ bowling is built around a phalanx of pace bowlers supported by the left arm spin of Briggs. Oliver Hannon-Dalby leads the way with 14 wickets.
Overall, then, we have the prospect of an excellent contest. At this stage of the season, all options are open for all teams so although the Bears are riding high, a win for Durham would shoot them up the table.
For Durham, it is impossible to look further than that man David Bedingham. Who knows? The landmark of 1000 runs before the end of May, last achieved 33 years ago by Graeme Hick, may not be beyond him. With a career first-class average of 50, his current run of form is clearly no fluke.
For Warwickshire, one-time teenage prodigy Sam Hain is beginning to re-establish his credentials as a four day run maker. He has scored three half centuries so far this season including two against Notts, for whom Stuart Broad paid him the compliment of unleashing a fearsome barrage of fast short-pitched deliveries that he survived. He has also snared nine catches in three games. All he needs to do now is convert half centuries into hundreds.
Durham have England pace bowler Mark Wood back in their squad for his first match of the season. Brydon Carse returns from injury and Liam Trevaskis joins him in the 13 man squad, but Matt Salisbury and Matthew Potts drop out. Alex Thomson, on loan from the Bears, is not eligible to play against them.
Durham squad: Scott Borthwick(c), David Bedingham, Jack Burnham, Brydon Carse, Paul Coughlin, Ned Eckersley, Ben Raine, Chris Rushworth, Liam Trevaskis, Alex Lees, Stuart Poynter, Mark Wood, Will Young
Warwickshire rest Olly Stone for this game. Dan Mousley, Liam Norwell and Henry Brookes come into the squad.
Warwickshire squad: Will Rhodes (c), Tim Bresnan, Danny Briggs, Henry Brookes, Mike Burgess (wk), Olly Hannon-Dalby, Sam Hain, Matt Lamb, Craig Miles, Dan Mousley, Liam Norwell, Hanuma Vihari, Rob Yates.
Weather and conditions
The forecast is for a mix of sunshine and light showers, with the temperature struggling to get into double figures.
The Riverside square has been re-laid and so far seems to be slow and true, making for batsman-friendly conditions.
Date: 29 April – 2 May 2021
Time: 11.00 am
Ground: Emirates Riverside, Chester-le-Street
Odds (Skybet): Durham 11/10; Warwickshire 4/6