It’s top against bottom of the LV County Championship Division Two table at the Seat Unique Riverside this week as Durham welcome Derbyshire through their gates for the fourth round of matches this season. Durham’s season has had a perfect symmetry so far, having played three, won one, lost one and drawn one, amassing forty points, leaving them five points clear of second placed Worcestershire. Derbyshire on the other hand have fourteen points from their two matches so far, having had last week of, having drawn one match and lost the other, leaving them seven points behind pre-season favourites Yorkshire.
Durham’s impressive start to the season has seen them score over 400 in two of their first innings batting and have only been bowled out in two of their five completed innings. A batting order based around discarded England opener Alex Lees and once upon a time England all rounder Scott Borthwick looks strong, however the real jewel in the crown is once Kolpak, now overseas David Bedingham, who has been the epitome of consistency since his signing in 2020. His 2023 season has so far continued that trend, as after three games Bedingham finds himself as leading run scorer in Division two with 257 runs compiled at an average of 51.40. It has been a team effort however, with the side amassing 12 batting bonus points so far, four more than any other county in either division, to show the team aspect of this they would not have managed this without the contributions of Carse and Raine down the order.
Derbyshire’s batting so far has been steady if not spectacular, in their first match they scored over 300 in both innings yet slid to defeat and last time out managed 254 for 7 in their only innings before the rain sent everyone home for a warm and dry off. They have three batters currently averaging over 50 in the County Championship this year, rejuvenated former skipper Billy Godleman, new skipper Leus DuPlooy and the ageless Wayne Madsen. For Derbyshire to compete this week, all three will need to contribute to their fullest at Durham.
It has been the bowling where both sides have looked a little less impressive, no surprise for Durham with Chris Rushworh leaving over the Winter and likewise for Derbyshire whose pre season match practice could be recorded on the back of a fag packet thanks to the inclement weather leaving outfields in the East Midlands sodden. Both will be hoping that the poor weather forecast for this match will put a bit of extra juice into the pitch and their labours will be rewarded.
When you bring in an overseas player you want them to win you matches and that is exactly what Matthew Kuhnermann has done for Durham, he is the current joint leading wicket taker in the division with 12 wickets at an average of 22.58 with his slow left arm bowling. Bowling which took five wickets in Durham’s win this season in the second innings, when you want your spinner to do the damage. If the game goes that long and the weather stays away, expect Kuhnermann to be key in propelling Durham to victory.
Derbyshire have struggled to take wickets this season so far and will be looking to their England Lion’s seamer to help them out. Sam Conners was the the most successful bowler for the side last season and if he can recapture that form again then Derbyshire stand a much better chance of success. Conners has taken a slightly different role this season, bowling first change rather than opening and he will be looking for that move to pay dividends.
Durham’s squad and side have been very settled so far this season, so do not expect much change for this fixture, the top order of Lees, Jones, Borthwick, Bedingham, Robinson and Clark is not just inked in but permanent markered into the team sheet, likewise the bowling attack of Carse, Raine, Coughlin and Kuhnermann. The only spot which has seen change is the seven spot with Bushell and Trevaskis rotating, this may happen again depending on pitch conditions on the morning. The wild card in the mix for Durham this game is the late loan signing of Matt Parkinson from Lancashire who should be expected to play and will add a greater wicket threat for the men from Chester-le-street
Durham squad: (tbc)
Derbyshire sent a number of their bowlers to play in the second team match last week, with the first team having a bye week to try and get some form and rhythm into their bowling. Following this expect Lakmal to come back into the side in search of wickets. Last season’s ever present Anuj Dal may is absent due to an injury picked up in the same second team game, Luis Reece would be an ideal like for like replacement with Dal out. Alex Thompson also pushed his case for a recall to first team action having taken 5 for 75 to bowl the seconds to victory. Like Durham the Derbyshire top order is pretty much set in stone, so don’t expect anything but a Godleman, Haider, Guest, Madesn, DuPlooy and Lamb top six.
1. Billy Godleman, 12. Haider Ali, 4. Harry Came, 10. Luis Reece, 29. Brooke Guest (wk), 77. Wayne Madsen
76. Leus du Plooy (c), 7. Matt Lamb, 15. Alex Thomson, 32. Zak Chappell, 51. Mark Watt, 59. Sam Conners
11. Ben Aitchison
Weather and Conditions
If you’re planning on heading to the game this week, lets hope you haven’t booked time off work for the Thursday and Friday as the forecast does not look good for the first two days of the match, with rain predicted throughout both. The Saturday looks to be the best day, so it may well be the case of acrew bonus points while the sun shines. Thos bonus points may well be best collected by batting, as the only other fixture to have been played at The Seat Unique Riverside this season saw three of the four innings declared, for the loss of just 18 wickets, with 1,237 runs scored across the four innings, the batters on both sides will be hoping for a similar track come Thursday.
Date: 27th – 30th April 2022
Time: 11.00 am
Ground: Seat Unique Riverside, Durham