Class act Coughlin the hero as career-best figures inspire magnificent success

Paul Coughlin celebrates dismissing Somerset batsman James Hildreth. Picture by Tim Richardson
Paul Coughlin celebrates dismissing Somerset batsman James Hildreth. Picture by Tim Richardson
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The margin was 120 runs and well within the scheduled four days, but the result does not paint a complete picture of Durham’s crushing LV County Championship win over Somerset.

At 3.30 on Monday afternoon, the Riversiders were well behind as the visitors rattled through their top order. By 3.30 yesterday, it was all over and they had returned to summit of Division One after Middlesex’s loss at Yorkshire.

The day belonged to fledgling Wearside all-rounder Paul Coughlin, who bowled with maturity beyond his youthful years to surpass previous career-best figures with 4-10 in 10 overs, with six maidens.

In truth, each seam bowler contributed to the cause as they completed a double over their opponents. Somerset, now bottom of the table, remain without a victory at Chester-le-Street since 1997.

Coughlin has more than a shade of Graham Onions about him; probing on or around off stump, bowling wicket-to-wicket and using sideways movement to great effect. His exertions over the last two days point towards a very bright future.

“I’ve watched Graham play for years now and it’s absolutely brilliant to be in a team with him now. I’ve always looked up to him,” Coughlin said.

“I haven’t really crafted myself around him, but I wouldn’t mind being half as good as he is!

“If you tie a team down enough they have to do something at some point a little bit different to what they would normally do.

“Everyone in the squad has stood up over the last two days.”

Captain Paul Collingwood was quick to lavish praise on him: “For a young guy, an amazing performance.”

Coughlin’s four-over spell before lunch, claiming the scalp of the competition’s leading run-scorer James Hildreth while not conceding a run, was vital as Somerset looked deflated in their efforts of chasing down 279 for victory.

A switch from the Finchale End after lunch provided a fresh challenge, with Peter Trego and Lewis Gregory beginning to form a partnership as he himself had done the previous day. Where Somerset’s bowlers failed, Coughlin succeeded.

Gregory nicked behind for 18 to end a partnership of 41 with Trego, who followed in almost identical fashion six overs later.

And when Tim Groenewald picked out Mark Stoneman at mid-off, Coughlin rounded off a fine few days and secured a fifth win from seven matches for his side.

It was his turn for the limelight yesterday, but Onions himself remains a fine asset to his side.

Though less economical after struggling for consistency in his second spell, he set the wheels in motion with wickets inside the opening six overs.

Tom Abell failed to account for sharp seam movement and was wrapped on the pad before first innings top-scorer Johann Myburgh fell, feathering down the leg-side as Michael Richardson completed a stunning catch – the first of five in the innings.

Hildreth almost succumbed in the same over, but Collingwood put down a simple chance at first slip, proving even the best drop them sometimes.

Once he and Marcus Trescothick both perished pre-lunch, the latter surviving numerous close appeals off Chris Rushworth before edging one that lifted off a length, it was never likely the visitors would come close.

Onions ended Tom Cooper’s scratchy innings, Jim Allenby attempted to pull John Hastings but nicked through to Richardson and Alex Barrow became Rushworth’s second victim before Coughlin’s burst rounded another remarkable comeback.