DEBUTANT Calum MacLeod dazzled on his debut to help Durham open their T20 Blast account with a victory, writes Gary Foster.
MacLeod looked assured and comfortable as he hit an unbeaten 80 from 56 balls against Worcestershire Rapids.
The 25-year-old Scotland international and former England T20 captain Paul Collingwood put on a Durham record partnership of 113 for the fourth-wicket in this format.
It was Collingwood who spotted the precocious talent while coaching the Scotland national team, and persuaded Durham to take a chance on MacLeod.
And it looks to have been shrewd judgement on Collingwood’s part.
MacLeod came to the crease with Durham in trouble on 33-3, but thanks to the Scot’s display with the bat, the hosts set Rapids a target of 174 to win.
MacLeod was asked after the game whether he thought he could earn himself a full-time contract at Durham (he joined the county for an initial one-month stay), but the modest Scot is refusing to get carried away.
He said: “They (Durham) have been good. They said, ‘Look, come down, get stuck in and if you do well enough, we can sit down and chat’.
“I don’t want to, on the back of one performance, start looking at stuff like that.
“It’s all the stuff that needs to be done.
“It (his performance last night) was all right, plus we got a win, so at the end of the day that is the important thing.
“It was nice to spend some time in the middle, and get some runs.
“I think it was probably my first win here after many losses with Scotland.”
Despite coming in with Durham under the cosh, MacLeod didn’t allow nerves to get the better of him and stuck to his gameplan.
He added: “I came into the game just trying to back my skills, and with the confidence of knowing that I had played a lot of short format cricket this winter, so I was hopefully in a good position to capitalise on that if I got the chance.”
MacLeod’s impressive bow will have done him little harm as he attempts to force his way into Durham’s four-day side, and that remains his major focus.
He said: “I’m a bit of a purist at heart, I do love the longer format. But again, that’s going to have to come down to weight of runs, and going about it the right way in the second team.”
MacLeod and Collingwood, who scored 62 of 37 balls, eased the Jets to 173-4.
In reply, Worcestershire made a steadier start than Durham, but Usman Arshad removed dangerous opener Moeen Ali for 21, and went on to finish with figures of 2-21.
Collingwood having starred alongside MacLeod with the bat, then delivered with the ball, taking 3-29.
And MacLeod, who also took two catches, was impressed with how the home side went about their business in the field.
He said: “I thought it was a very good performance.
“Arshad came on and bowled nicely, and Gareth Breese showed the class that I’ve been seeing so far in the second team, and what he’s been doing for years.”
Breese took 2-26 in an excellent four-over spell.