Dynamic Durham Deliver

Wednesday, September 19, 2007 1:39 | Filed in Local Interest, Sport

Durham, my local county cricket team, are by far the newest of the county teams, having only been competing against the other counties since being granted first-class status in 1991.

In fact, ‘competing’ may be too strong a word. For much of this time, they have languished near the bottom of the County Championship tables — indeed I’m sure that I can remember one season where they achieved the grand total of one victory, and quite a few which were nearly as bad.

In the past few years however, there have been signs of improvement with local talent (Harmison, Collingwood and Plunkett) all progressing from Durham to the England setup. Of course, this is very much a mixed blessing: one the one hand it says nice things about Durham bringing on players, but the flip side is that it means that you’re without your best players for much of the season.

Last season, this came close to costing us dearly as we struggled to survive in the top flight: drawing our final match with Yorkshire, we sneaked ahead of Nottinghamshire who had been comprehensively beaten to finish with 153.5 points, and finished ahead of Nottinghamshire and relegation by the slimmest of slim margins — 0.5 points.

You can’t get much more “skin of the teeth” than that.

This season however they have been battling away and as we approach the final County Championship game of the season (away to Kent), Durham sit third in the table and are still in with a slight chance of winning the title.

It would be a monumental achievement if Durham could win the title so soon after becoming a first-class team. Irrespective of the final result, and final league placing, this season I have been very proud to support Durham, who have already won two trophies.

In August, we comfortably won the Friends Provident Trophy, battering Hampshire into submission and a 125-run win in a one-day game staged over two days because of rain delays, to win our first ever trophy as a first-class side.

Yet at one stage in the semi-final it had looked as though we were heading out. Essex having gone in to bat first, and having been skittled out for a paltry 71 (which wasn’t bad after having been reduced to 38-7), you’d be confident of picking up 72 runs without too much difficulty. Only we stuttered to 6-3, then 38-7 ourselves, only unlike Essex, who’d still had a no. 4 in at that point, we were well into our tail enders.

Fortunately, Plunkett and Gibson steadied the ship, either grimly hanging on in in Gibson’s case or in Plunkett’s case hitting 30 of the following 34 runs in a massive innings for us and steering us to a nerve-shredding victory.

And now we’ve gone and won our second trophy, having won the NatWest Pro 40 Division 2 (although admittedly, it is Division 2) and with it promotion back to Division 1 for next season. To me though, who at the start of the season was expecting no trophies whatsoever, to have seen us lift two already and still be in with a (slim) chance of a third is nothing short of miraculous.

I’d like therefore to publicly thank all of the Durham team — and behind the scenes staff — for the hard work they’ve put in not just this season, but in previous seasons, through the hard times, to get us to where we are today. I do have to give special mention to a couple of players though: “Colonel” Mustard, the batsman-wicketkeeper who has been recommended for an England one-day call up by the legendary Shane Warne, and also the veteran West Indian bowler Otis Gibson who at 38 isn’t ready for pasture yet, having picked up a good number of wickets this season, including spectacularly all 10 wickets in Hampshire’s first innings and finishing with figures of 10-47.

So thanks for what you’ve achieved to far lads — and good luck against Kent today.

You can leave a response, or trackback from your own site.

No comments yet.

Leave a comment