IN a season where losing County Championship games has almost become second nature, Durham skipper Paul Collingwood believes his side could be starting to rediscover their winning habit.
Having gone 11 games before claiming their first four-day win of the campaign, the men from the Emirates ICG were on the brink of a second successive home victory against Surrey today.
The hosts were in a commanding position after Surrey closed the second day on 69-5 – still 112 runs behind Durham’s first innings total of 310 all out.
To make matter worse for the visitors, they were in danger of losing the three bonus points because they are unlikely to be able to claw back their current overs rate of minus three.
That could be good news for Durham, who are 15 points behind Surrey in the Championship table, but Collingwood and his team were focusing on finishing the job before they even contemplate glancing at the league standings.
Collingwood said: “We’ve got a good lead from the first innings, but we’ve still got to turn up, keep our standards as high as we’ve set over the first couple of days and finish the job off.
“We’ve just got to stay focused, do the right things, create chances and take them.”
Collingwood led by example yesterday with 78, as he and Dale Benkenstein (69) put on a fifth-partnership of 132.
Phil Mustard (46) and bowler Callum Thorp (32) also put together a crucial stand of 75 as Durham claimed three batting points – although the former did get a reprieve on 43 when having been given out lbw Jeff Evans he was recalled to the middle with the umpire admitting he’d got it wrong.
Having bowled the visitors out for a measly 129 in their first innings, the Durham seamers were given 32 overs to have another go at the Surrey batsmen last night.
Graham Onions was first to strike, having Zafar Ansari caught by Collingwood at first slip in the seventh over.
Ben Stokes dismissed Arun Harinath and Jason Roy lbw, while Zander De Bruyn fell victim to an excellent run out from Benkenstein, although the run always looked a suicidal one. Chris Rushworth removed Steve Davies for 15.