Yorkshire’s hopes of an immediate return to Division One appear to be in disarray, having lost their first game against Leicestershire and escaped with a draw against Glamorgan last week, as their batting collapsed during the final afternoon. In between they have had a wash out and a draw. Meanwhile Durham have been playing a bold brand of cricket and despite a loss in the opening round away to Sussex, they have since had wins against Worcestershire and Derbyshire as well as a dominant draw in a rain-affected match against Glamorgan. They did not play in the last round, but have an 11 point lead over second placed Sussex.
The Durham batting has been prolific, with first innings scores of 376, 425, 471 and 452 and a total of 17 out of a possible 20 batting points. Ben Raine and Matthew Potts have both taken 16 wickets at 24.0 and 26.87 respectively and despite losing the services of Matthew Kuhnemann because of a back injury, they have recruited another left arm spinner Ajaz Patel, who should be available for this game.
Meanwhile, Yorkshire have managed only six batting points from the three games played. In the last round against Glamorgan, they looked to be getting into a position where a run chase was on, but instead of going “Bazball” and pushing for the win they desperately need, indecisive batting took them to within a whisker of losing the game. Adam Lyth’s 174 was key to their second innings resistance, but it might have been a different outcome if he had not been put down twice. They looked a team lacking confidence when, on paper, they should be a dominant force in Division Two. Ben Coad is their top wicket-taker with 11 at 20.9, but he pulled up in the last match with a groin strain, having bowled just 9.5 overs.
Durham will start this game as favourites and unless Yorkshire can start instilling some belief in their play, they look like falling further away from the top table.
Ollie Robinson moved to Durham in the off-season in order to further his wicket keeping credentials, having had to play second fiddle to Sam Billings at Kent. The move has started profitably as he tops the Durham run scoring with 303 at 50.5 and he will hope that the England selectors will be taking note if he continues to perform.
Jonny Bairstow did not have quite the comeback he would have wanted, having been out of the game since August last year following his golfing accident. He kept tidily against Glamorgan, including one outstanding catch, but scores of 20 not out and a duck did not give him much time at the crease. Amid the debate about where he would fit into the England Ashes team and whether he should keep wicket or fit in at the top of the order, he will want a productive few weeks with the bat.
Durham should have New Zealand spinner Patel available and after a week off will be able to pick from a fit squad.
Durham squad: TBC
With Coad likely to be on the injury list and Matt Milnes still side-lined, all-rounder Matthew Revis is likely to come into the team. Saud Shakeel was signed for four matches, including this one and it is assumed that Shan Masood will not play until next week.
Yorkshire squad: TBC
Weather and Conditions
Showers are forecast for the first two days with improvement into Saturday.
In both games at Chester-le-Street this year, Durham have batted first (on the second occasion having won the toss) and scored over 400 at a good rate, so it will be an interesting decision for the captain winning the toss, given the damp forecast.
Date: 11th April 2023