DURHAM’S struggles continued on the second day of their County Championship clash away to Worcestershire.
Geoff Cook’s men again need their bowling attack to provide the inspiration their batsman are so sadly lacking, after yet another bad day at the office yesterday.
First and foremost they must look to deal with that rarest of things at the moment – an in-form Australian.
Phil Hughes hit 322 runs to become the top-scoring batsmen in this season’s Twenty20 competition, helping Worcestershire to progress to the quarter-finals.
And he has continued his form in the longer format of the game with an unbeaten knock of 52 yesterday to put the hosts in the driving seat in what could be a crucial championship game.
Hughes and opening partnern Daryl Mitchell put on a stand before Ben Stokes had the latter caught behind for 24.
Stokes struck again in his next over, trapping Vikram Solanki lbw for 13, to give his side brief hope.
However, with Worcestershire steadying the ship to reach 100-2 at the close of the second, it is the hosts who are in the box seat.
Durham must now hope their bowlers can stop Hughes and his team-mates from going on to overhaul their first innings total of 243 and setting a big lead.
Another rain-affected day – Durham have now lost 17 days of championship cricket this season, including 86 in the first two days of this match – saw the start delayed until the afternoon as the visitors resumed on 127-4.
Unfortunately for them, their desperate four-day form with the bat shows no sign of abating just yet.
Stand-in skipper Dale Benkenstein (30) and Michael Richardson (0) perished early on to leave the visitors on 150-6.
An all-too brief cameo from former skipper Phil Mustard, who reached 32 before clipping a ball from Richard Jones straight to Hughes at deep square leg, did little to raise Durham from their doldrums.
And even though the tail wagged – Callum Thorp (30) and Graham Onions (25 not out) putting on 42 in seven overs – the visitors were all out for a paltry 243.
Durham, rooted to the bottom of the Division One table, and Worcestershire – just one place above them – are the only two sides yet to win a championship game this season.