Durham hopes of NatWest T20 Blast quarter-finals if they can defeat Northamptonshire

Ben Stokes
Ben Stokes
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Durham can begin to entertain serious hopes of reaching the NatWest T20 Blast quarter-finals if they win at home to Northamptonshire tomorrow evening.

They will be hoping for a repeat of Sunday’s performance in a five-wicket win against Leicestershire, which took them into the fourth qualifying place in the north group.

They will again be able to call on Ben Stokes and Mark Wood, and Stokes has been given the all-clear to bowl following his knee operation.

Durham are unbeaten at home in the competition and three of their remaining four games are at Emirates Riverside on successive Friday evenings.

The other match is at Headingley on Wednesday against a Yorkshire side who are on the same number of points.

Durham aim to shrug off the embarrassment of last month’s batting display when they visited Northampton, where they collapsed to nine for four and lost by 26 runs.

“Paul Coughlin took a triple wicket maiden in the last over of their innings, but it got overlooked because of our batting performance,” said coach Jon Lewis.

“There was a bit of a shower between innings. It seemed to give the pitch a bit more zip and we didn’t adjust well.

“Our batting has been the major reason why we haven’t won a couple more games.

“We have tinkered a little bit with the order but we have tried to give a pattern to the top four or five. Batsmen need to make brave choices and it would not be good for them to think they were going to be axed if they made the wrong one.”

Durham suffered a hiccup against Leicestershire when Michael Richardson and Ryan Pringle fell cheaply, but Phil Mustard saw them home with an unbeaten 75.

He has been out of the four-day side for over a year and is due to have further talks about his future tomorrow.

Lewis said: “All things work together, so the financial situation comes into it, plus performances and value to the team. Phil wants to play all forms of the game, so I’m not sure a one-day contract would be attractive to him.”

Wood made his first team comeback on Sunday but this will be his last Durham appearance for two weeks after being called into the England Lions squad.

“He was impressive on Sunday. From our selfish point of view he bowled a bit too well in the front of the TV cameras so we will lose him for a while,” said Lewis.

Durham had hoped to have Wood available for the championship match against Lancashire at Southport on Saturday, when Paul Collingwood is keen to return after a three-week absence with a fractured thumb.