DURHAM suffered a massive blow to their County Championship hopes as they lost to Nottinghamshire by 67 runs at Trent Bridge yesterday.
The defeat leaves Geoff Cook’s side in second place, 10 points behind leaders Lancashire, who now have a game in hand.
Durham went into day three chasing 301 runs to win, but they fell well short, and Cook is calling on his side to rediscover their early form as their bid for a third Championship title threatens to unravel.
“It’s vital that we lick the wounds and go away and get ready to put in two performances that are befitting of a team near the top of the table,” he said
“We were always a game ahead early on, and we played some good cricket, but resources were becoming a little bit thin and people like Lancashire are playing on pitches you can get results on.
“We played excellently at the start of the season and we need to try and re-capture those levels.”
There were some positives for Cook, who lost Steve Harmison to injury and saw Scott Borthwick, Graeme Onions and Ben Stokes called up by England for today’s one-day international against Ireland in Dublin.
Mark Stoneman, returning from injury, worked hard for his 74 runs, before being bowled by Luke Fletcher.
He and Paul Collingwood put up stubborn resistance to steady the ship after the early loss of Michael Di Venuto and nightwatchman Mitch Claydon.
But when Collingwood went shortly after lunch caught behind off the bowling of Darren Pattinson for 33, an uphill struggle became a mountain to climb.
The tail wagged slightly with youngster Mark Wood hitting an unbeaten 45 from only 33 balls, including some attractive cover drives, but it was never going to be enough.
Cook tried to remain positive and praised the efforts of Stoneman and Wood.
“Mark (Stoneman) has come back from injury, and is playing well in four day and one day cricket,” he said.
“He’s got a fresh mind and I thought his innings yesterday was excellent. He and Collingwood played really well, and at lunch we thought we were in with a chance.
“Mark Wood is a lively character, he is talented with the bat and ball and I think he enjoyed himself out there yesterday.
“It would be nice for him to finish the season having earned his place in order to get more experience.”
Wood has picked up an injury, sustaining a sore side, while Ruel Brathwaite endured a knee problem.
Notts revelled in a career-best haul from spinner Graeme White, who claimed 4-72 – the final four wickets of the match – to add to his 3-17 from the first innings.
The 24-year-old bowled with good control and found plenty of bounce and turn from the off.
He trapped Phil Mustard lbw with a quicker ball before brilliantly dismissing Ian Blackwell for 31 with a diving one-handed return catch to expose the Durham tail.
White wrapped up proceedings by having Callum Thorp caught at mid-on off a miscued drive and then Ruel Brathwaite stumped by Read.