DURHAM coach Geoff Cook has a simple message to his struggling players – don’t panic!
Cook looked on as the county’s hunt for a first County Championship win of the season was shattered after another dreadful batting collapse in Taunton yesterday.
It had been hoped that Durham had turned a corner when they posted a first innings total of 384. But they returned to their bad old ways to hand hosts Somerset a five-wicket win inside three days.
Cook is insisting his side must keep their heads as they look to get their season back on track.
He said: “The important thing is not to panic,”.
“We have only played six games and there are ten left so I’m not saying that we’re going to win the championship or that we’re going to be relegated.
“We have some talented batsmen who all put in the necessary practice, but are not managing to post big totals.
“There was an opportunity here on a good pitch for people to spend time at the crease and gain in confidence, but in some cases it was spurned.”
George Dockrell claimed his second six-wicket haul this season to seal Somerset’s win.
The 19-year-old Irish left-arm spinner took six for 29 as the visitors were shot out for 167 in their second innings, having conceded a first-innings deficit of 16.
Set 152 to win, Somerset were 17 for two at one point. But Arul Suppiah (73) and James Hildreth (31) eased any nerves with a third-wicket stand of 83 as the hosts romped home by five wickets.
The day began with Somerset 357 for eight in their first innings. Peter Trego extended his overnight score of 67 to 89 with some meaty blows before losing his middle stump to Jamie Harrison, who claimed four for 112 on his Championship debut.
Dockrell and Jamie Overton scored the remaining 11 runs for maximum batting points and Hildreth immediately declared, hoping his bowlers could take advantage of some rare cloud cover.
Jamie Overton responded by having Michael Di Venuto (26) caught in the slips with the total on 36, but there was no sign of the carnage to come as Durham progressed to 69 for one.
Then three wickets fell without a run added. Mark Stoneman was taken at first slip trying to withdraw the bat from a Craig Overton delivery, Ben Stokes fell to a catch at third slip off the same bowler and Will Smith was snapped up at second slip off Alfonso Thomas.
Paul Collingwood and Ian Blackwell looked to be steadying the ship, only for four wickets to tumble with the total on 131, all to Dockrell, bowling from the River End.
Blackwell (38) gave a return catch just when threatening to break loose. Phil Mustard was caught at short-leg off bat and pad, Liam Plunkett was well caught above his head by Craig Overton at mid-off and Callum Thorp was taken by Jamie Overton in the covers.
Suddenly it was 131 for eight and Durham led by only 115. Collingwood (32) did his best to lift the total before edging a big shot to Hildreth at slip, giving Dockrell his fifth wicket.
The tall spinner soon made it six by having Harrison caught by Jos Buttler running in from cover, but his figures were not a season’s best. He took six for 27 in the opening Championship game against Middlesex.
After losing Alex Barrow first ball and Nick Compton for eight, Somerset needed a positive response. Suppiah supplied it, moving to an attractive half-century off 72 balls, with five fours and three sixes, before falling lbw to Smith with only 23 needed.
To add to Durham’s woes, Di Venuto left the field yesterday with an Achilles problem, and has joined Dale Benkenstein, who is still having a problem with his shoulder, on the Durham casualty list.
Durham take a break from County Championship action this weekend when they play host to Scotland in the Clydesdale Bank 40 competition on Sunday (1.45pm start), but return to the four-day game when champions Lancashire, who are also struggling for form, arrive at the Emirates ICG on Wednesday (11am start).