DURHAM’S misfiring batsmen must rediscover their form quickly – that is the message from skipper Phil Mustard after his side crashed to defeat in their opening County Championship game of the season.
The hosts never really got going with the bat against Nottinghamshire, who despite being bowled out for just 161 in their first innings, claimed a convincing 114-run win at the Emirates ICG yesterday.
Durham only managed 129 in their first innings reply and when Nottinghamshire posted 335 in their second innings (Michael Lumb 131) the home side were always going to have a mountain to climb.
And Mustard, right, who top-scored for Durham with a second innings knock of 80, was the first to admit his side’s batting line-up had failed to fire.
“It’s been two disappointing innings,” he said. “If you look back at the last three days, it’s been a poor performance from the batters, I think.
“The bowlers did a very good job, but none of us performed really well with the bat and we just have to move on from that.”
However, Mustard was quick to point out that a good performance from the visitors’ bowling attack also played its part in Durham’s downfall.
He added: “Some of the batsmen got out playing some really bad shots, but there were some really, really good balls as well.
“Nottinghamshire put us under pressure from (Andre) Adams and Phillips. Those two showed what you should do with the new ball.
“They put us under pressure with it and we just couldn’t handle that.
“We were full of confidence when we started the game, but the Nottinghamshire bowlers put us under a lot of pressure, putting the ball in the right areas, swinging it around and bouncing it a bit.
“They were just too good for us.”
Mustard praised a defiant 73-run last-wicket stand by tail-enders Graham Onions (28) and Mitch Claydon, who hit his highest-ever score for Durham before being caught by Luke Fletcher off the bowling of Samit Patel for 55.
But the Durham duo and a 30-minute rain break only managed to delay the inevitable as the hosts, who had resumed day four on 203-9 were all out for 253.
Mustard said: “They (Claydon and Onions) came out this morning knowing they were up against it and they went out and enjoyed themselves a little bit. They gave us something to watch.
“The bowlers worked really hard. From a bowler’s mentality, when Graham Onions came out I think he thought, ‘I’m not here to give my wicket away’.
“Bunny put up the guard and made them come back. We made them play for a bit longer, but not enough.
“As for Mitch, it’s always good when people get a good score – his highest score ever. It’s a shame it’s come in a game where we cannot really celebrate it.
“I’m sure he’ll get a few more runs during the season.”
Durham face Middlesex at Lord’s in their next championship encounter, which starts on Thursday and Mustard says they must now look ahead to that game rather than focus on what might have been.
He added: “You win some, you lose some, but you don’t want to dwell on it. It’s early season, we’re just getting into it.
“It’s a good learning curve for us that we’re not just going to rock up and expect to win. We’ve got to battle hard.
“We’ll have teams coming here wanting to take us down and we’ve got to step up our game again.”
Durham hope to have Paul Collingwood available for selection for the Middlesex game.
The all-rounder is continuing to recover from a virus which kept him out against Nottinghamshire.