Durham welcome Glamorgan to Chester-le-Street this week, after strong performances from both sides in the last round. Glamorgan were winners against Leicestershire, while Durham dominated their game in Worcester. This contest will be remembered for a brutal innings from Ben Stokes, in which he scored 161 off 88 balls, with 17 sixes and was a couple of metres short of the six sixes in an over landmark. Leaving themselves 118 overs to bowl out Worcestershire, they only managed to take three wickets as the pitch flattened out. This seems to be a recurrent theme at the moment and the hopes of spinners coming to the fore on day four of games seems a long way off.
The two teams met in the first round of Championship games, down in Cardiff and on that occasion the weather helped Glamorgan hold out for a draw. That game was dominated by an innings of 182 not out from Alex Lees and the current incumbent of one of the England opener slots is currently averaging 128.3 this season. His Durham opening partner, Sean Dickson scored two centuries in the Worcestershire game, the second off just 73 balls and if you then add David Bedingham, there is a formidable batting line up, whether or not Stokes plays. In the bowling department for Durham, the normally reliable Chris Rushworth has had a slow start to the season, but Matty Potts is more than making up for it, as the joint top wicket-taker in either division with 24 at 22.9.
Glamorgan’s successes this season have been built on strong team performances, led by their two overseas players, Marnus Labuschagne and Michael Neser. Neser has not taken as many wickets as he probably deserves, while Labuschagne is a bundle of energy, whether batting, bowling or fielding. New signing, Sam Northeast has added some steel to the middle order and as a group they have the ability to compete against any opposition.
Whether or not Stokes plays, Durham look to be marginal favourites, despite them being behind Glamorgan in the table. For both teams this will be their sixth game in as many weeks and this may be having some effect on the pace bowlers, the likes of Rushworth, Potts, Neser and Michael Hogan having played in every game. While Glamorgan have a bye next week, Durham have a further outing, so there may be some rotation decisions to be made. The long dry spell has meant there have been few days off for players.
Sean Dickson stands at the other end to Alex Lees in the Durham opening partnership and has made a strong start to the season. He is the top run scorer in Championship cricket with 729 at an average of 81. South African born, but with a British passport, he made his first class debut for Northerns in 2013, at the age of 22, but then moved to the UK in 2015. He trialled with Kent second XI and signed a contract the same year. He moved to Durham in 2020 after turning down a contract renewal with Kent. His migration north seems to be working!
He may be the top ranked batter in world cricket, but there is so much more to Marnus Labuschagne. He has performed with both the bat and ball for Glamorgan this season, scoring 329 runs at 47 and taking seven wickets at 30, bowling both medium pace and leg spin, so a true all rounder. In the field he has boundless energy, chasing down everything, as well as taking catches in the slips. He undoubtedly will be at the heart of most things Glamorgan do this week.
The Durham team were in the field for 200 overs in the last game and it will be interesting to see if the opening duo of Rushworth and Potts will both play for the sixth week running. Durham supporters will be delighted that Ben Stokes remains in the squad and almost equally pleased at the return of Brydon Carse who has been out since July last year
Durham squad: Scott Borthwick (c), David Bedingham, Brydon Carse, Sean Dickson, Ned Eckersley (wk), Michael Jones, Alex Lees, Liam Trevaskis, Keegan Petersen, Matthew Potts, Ben Raine, Chris Rushworth, Matt Salisbury, Ben Stokes
The news for Glamorgan is that Timm van der Gugten has recovered from his hamstring injury and will come into the squad alongside left arm seamer Jamie McIlroy. Van der Gugten is likely to start and if McIlory is included, this will allow some rotation of the seamers.
Glamorgan squad: : David Lloyd (capt), Andrew Salter, Marnus Labuschagne, Sam Northeast, Kiran Carlson, Chris Cooke, Billy Root, Andy Gorvin, Michael Neser, James Weighell, James Harris, Timm van der Gugten, Michael Hogan, James McIlroy.
Weather and Conditions
The forecast is dry but cloudy for the four days.
The teams that have won the toss in the two games played at The Riverside this season, have fielded first, but we do not expect the ball to dominate significantly. The trend throughout the country has been for the best batting conditions to be on days two and three, with little deterioration of the pitch on day four to help the spinners significantly.
Date: 12th – 15th May 2022
Odds (SkyBet): Durham 8/11; Glamorgan 1/1