WORCESTERSHIRE batsmen have been warned they are putting themselves in Harm’s way when they line up against Durham tomorrow.
That is the verdict of Durham ace Gordon Muchall, who believes that Ashington Express Steve Harmison will be firing on all cylinders at New Road.
The fast bowler has been out of action after fracturing his wrist while batting in the open County Championship game of the season away to Hampshire, but Muchall says that the former England man is chomping at the bit.
“Steve is ready and raring to go,” he said. “He bowled a few overs in the seconds and in the past few days he has been bowling in the nets.
“He was proving a bit of a handful for some of the lads batting in the nets and hopefully, he can take that into this game.
“I’m sure he’ll be fired up and wanting to get in among the wickets.”
Harmison is likely to come in to replace Graham Onions, who is away on England Lions duty and Muchall admits it’s a timely boost.
“Losing Graham to England is a bit of a blow,” he admitted. “But obviously we wish him well with the Lions.
“He has come back from a long-term injury and is starting to get back to his best. He is bowling well so he’ll be a miss, but you couldn’t ask for anyone better than Steve to come in.
“He is top bowler and I’m sure he can’t wait to get back on the field.”
Mitch Claydon could also come into the Durham line-up, which Muchall says is another added bonus for the bowling attack.
He said: “Mitch hasn’t really played a lot of championship cricket so far this season, so he could come in and freshen things up.
“He offers another bowling option, and is another threat as a wicket-taker.”
However, coach Geoff Cook will have to wait and see if the influential Dale Benkenstein is available.
The one-day skipper pulled out of yesterday’s Pro40 clash with Scotland Saltires at the 11th hour suffering from a sore right knee.
The problem will continue to be assessed and Cook will give the veteran every opportunity to make the clash with Worcestershire.
The hosts could have injury worries of their own after a number of players, including ex-England ace Vikram Solanki who required hospital treatment, were struck by the ball during their four-day clash with Warwickshire, who were subsequently fined for the state of their pitch.
Worcester will be hoping to have as strong a side available as possible against Durham having suffered a dreadful start to the campaign – they have lost all five of their County Championship encounters so far this term and have won just one of their three Pro40 clashes, and faced another tough one-day Test away to Middlesex today.
A century from Kyle Coetzer helped Durham to a second Clydesdale Bank 40 win in as many days as they beat Scotland by 80 runs to move up to second in Group B.
The win at The Citylets Grange was Durham’s fourth win in five matches in the competition as they recovered from the early loss of Phil Mustard to post a competitive total of 278 for four after being put in, with Coetzer hitting an unbeaten 110.
Opener Fraser Watts impressed in the Scotland reply with 62 but he did not enjoy much in the way of support as they fell way short of their target.
Durham’s innings got off to a difficult start as former England wicketkeeper Mustard fell in the fourth over, caught by Calum MacLeod off the bowling of Gordon Drummond for five.
Coetzer was joined at the crease by Ben Stokes and the two scored quickly as the former brought up a run-a-ball half century before Stokes lost his wicket to Josh Davey, caught by Neil McCallum for 35.
Gordon Muchall then came to the crease and he and Coetzer improved the run-rate further, adding 112 for the third wicket before Muchall (65) was caught behind off Gordon Goudie.
Will Smith quickly followed Muchall back to the pavilion when he was trapped lbw by Drummond seven balls later.
But that was the final wicket to fall as Gareth Breese thrashed 47 off 18 balls to add to Coetzer’s impressive innings and set Scotland a difficult target.
The hosts set off at a frenetic pace in their reply but lost wickets at regular intervals as they came up short in their chase.
MacLeod was bowled by Chris Rushworth in the fourth over before Davey, Richie Berrington and McCallum all fell for a combined total of 16 runs, leaving the score on 61 for four.
Preston Mommsen (38) then offered some resistance before becoming Stokes’ first victim of the innings, and when impressive opener Watts (62) fell to Scott Borthwick three overs later the writing was on the wall for Scotland.
The final four wickets fell for 53 runs as Durham’s man-of-the-match Coetzer ran out Drummond to bring Scotland’s innings to a premature end.