A good day in the office as the County battle away

Kyle Coetzer made a half century against his former club as the County replied to Durham's 452
Kyle Coetzer made a half century against his former club as the County replied to Durham's 452

Were I a betting man, my hard earned would be placed on the LV= County Championship encounter with Durham ending in a draw.

Having conceded a hefty 452, Northamptonshire closed the second day on 200-3 as they tucked themselves neatly in behind the visitors after making a robust response.

It would take a pretty dismal effort with the bat from one of the protagonists for a result to be manufactured and, as the side currently at the crease, the onus is still on the County to ensure that fate doesn’t befall them.

Two-hundred and fifty-two in arrears, their first task will be to make sure that the follow-on target is safely negotiated and should that be the case, it would be safe to assume that neither will be willing to offer much so early in the piece.

If the County’s effort with the ball on the first day could be considered one of perseverance and graft, their second day counterpart fell short of that mark.

A lifeless surface didn’t help matters, as it rarely does, but their seam attack was a yard slower and had little joy against the Durham lower order who scored fairly freely without meeting much in the way of resistance.

The trio of Phil Mustard, Gareth Breese and Jamie Harrison all tucked into some average offerings, especially Harrison who motored to a maiden first-class half century at a run a ball.

The only real surprise was that none of the Durham order made it to three figures and Mustard will have been left kicking himself after he squandered a gilt-edged chance to register what would’ve been his first century for three years.

Having made it to 90 with no alarms, he frenetically swiped and missed at four deliveries in one Muhammad Azharullah over, edged a single down to third man and then was caught behind off Steven Crook as he attempted to withdraw his bat.

Breese was then neatly stumped down the leg-side off Andrew Hall as he lost his balance which left Harrison free to pepper the boundary boards which he did in some style before a swing too many saw his stumps rattled.

The reply, certainly in the initial overs, maintained a similar pace as both James Middlebrook and Stephen Peters settled into a good rhythm almost immediately.

The former proved to be the pacesetter as he struck a handful of crisp boundaries, off Chris Rushworth primarily, and the 50 was reached in the 13th over with no bother.

But Middlebrook seemed to get ahead of himself a fraction as, after being given a life when a mistimed pull shot straight at deep square-leg off Harrison saw Keaton Jennings lose his footing and make a right hash of the chance, he pushed at one angled across him to present Scott Borthwick with a catch to his left at second slip.

The tea interval arrived with no further mishaps and it wasn’t until half an hour into the evening session that the second wicket fell when Peters, who had looked in very good touch on his way to the sixth 50 of the contest, gave Borthwick his second catch in the slips when Graeme Onions got one to hold up.

And the trend of the game continued following another serene passage when Kyle Coetzer imitated those who had gone before by getting halfway to three figures and then contriving to get himself out as he drove loosely at the impressive Harrison.

The rest of the day was played out in uneventful fashion and they’ll all be back for more of the same - probably - come tomorrow morning.