FORMER skipper Will Smith says Durham must apply themselves if they are to have a chance of getting back on top in their County Championship clash with Warwickshire, writes Gary Foster.
Having bowled out the visitors for a first-innings total of 429 yesterday morning, Geoff Cook’s side made a decent start to their reply – Smith and Michael Di Venuto taking the game to the Warks bowling attack.
By the end of play, a mini collapse had reduced them to 230-5 – a deficit of just under 200 runs.
Now Smith is calling on the team to dig deep and ask questions of a Warwickshire bowling attack, on a track that he expects to deteriorate as the game goes on.
He said: “The pitch is probably a little bit quicker than last week’s. This is just a good wicket.
“The way they batted on it showed if you bat with application and skill, you can score some good runs. If you bowl with application and patience, it makes it tough to bat on.
“I think 429 is probably slightly above par, we were disappointed we let them get that many. Having said that, if we can get up near that it puts them under a fair bit of pressure batting third.
“There might well be some turn if we get another day of sun on it. Hopefully it does a little bit but not too much – with us batting last we don’t want it turning square. Mind you, they’ve only got one spinner and he’s inexperienced.
“We just need to play the better cricket over the next two days to make sure we come out on top.”
Smith was one of the five Durham wickets to fall and got off to a good start, but once again he failed to convert that into a century, something which he is determined to put right.
“Last week I was guilty of playing a loose shot, yesterday it was a decent ball,” he said.
“I don’t think I was really at fault this week.
“But while you never want to get out at any time, I seem to be making a habit of it when I’ve got 50 or 60.
“When it’s a decent ball that gets you out you’re not so disappointed. I’m playing well and that’s all I can keep doing, hopefully three figures will come along.”
Smith (66) and opening partner Di Venuto put together an impressive stand of 164, and even after the former’s departure, the hosts still looked like making real inroads into the Warwickshire total.
But when Di Venuto pulled a leg muscle on 95, and had to call for a runner, things started to go downhill.
He was eventually trapped lbw for 109 by the impressive Rikki Clarke before Gordon Muchall, Ben Stokes and night-watchman Graham Onions were quickly back in the pavilion after coming to the crease.
Earlier in the day, Durham looked to be clawing their way back into the game when they reduced the visitors to 349-9 – Ruel Brathwaite claiming his second five-fer in successive championship clashes.
But a superb 70 not out by Chris Woakes steered Warwickshire to an impressive 429 all out.