Johann Myburgh takes centre stage for Durham

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WHILE one South African roared into the Emirates ICG last week, treated to a hero’s welcome, another slipped in under the radar, writes Gary Foster.

Overseas pro Herschelle Gibbs was unveiled to the media last week as Durham’s not so secret weapon for T20 success.

Just over 24 hours later, fellow countryman Johann Myburgh was playing alongside him in Dynamos second XI T20 matches against Lancashire.

For Gibbs, the clashes at South Northumberland Cricket Club’s Gosforth home, were a warm-up, for Myburgh a trial to see if he was worth a shot.

The former Hampshire man duly proved his worth and was offered a one-month contract by coach Geoff Cook.

Myburgh is clearly talented enough to compete at first-class level, but must surely have been seen as a bit-part player with Gibbs taking the lead.

But two games into Durham’s T20 campaign, Gibbs has amassed just eight runs, scoring six from 10 balls in the opening win over Yorkshire on Friday night, and yesterday, managed just two from six balls in the seven-wicket defeat at home to Nottinghamshire.

Myburgh opened his T20 account with 10 from 15 balls down at Headingley last week, but yesterday the all-rounder steadied the ship with 45 from 41 balls at a time when Durham were floundering.

The new boy’s performance was one of very few bright spots for Cook’s side as they trundled their way to a paltry 114-5 from their 20 overs.

The South African arrived at the crease with his new team on 19-2, and when Ben Stokes joined Phil Mustard (19) and Gibbs back in the pavilion to leave the hosts on 3-23, Myburgh had to dig deep.

But the all-rounder took no real pleasure from top-scoring for his new side, insisting he wasn’t thinking about individual success.

“You can’t think like that in cricket, it’s a team sport,” he said. “It’s not golf, it’s not tennis. If the team’s winning, and you are contributing then individual performances will come along.

“You obviously want to contribute, but whether it’s a quick 15 runs or a last-ball six in T20 depends on the situation.

“You have to try to play it as it comes and try to win every game.”

Myburgh admitted losing key players early on made it very difficult for the home side to put together any sort of total, although he and Gordon Muchall did steer them over the three figures, which at one point had seemed out of their reach.

He said: “It was hard work having lost four very important wickets, but in the end I put together a nice partnership with Muchy (Muchall), and I think if we had got up to 130 we might have given them a better game.

“At that stage that was the kind of partnership that was needed to get to any kind of total. We had to recover from losing the four big players early on.

“You have got to be adaptable in T20 cricket, and whatever is required you have got to try to do and give it 100 per cent.”

Myburgh followed Gibbs, Benkenstein, Stokes and Mustard by finding his man perfectly holing out to Darren Pattinson.

Muchall (23) and Scott Borthwick (17) kept the score ticking over, but struggled to find the boundary.

The small total of 114 was never going to be enough, and Myburgh admitted that another 20 runs could have made all the difference for Durham.

“I’m not saying we would have won if we got 135, but with the bowlers we have got that would have put their guys under pressure,” he said.

As it was, Nottinghamshire cruised to victory.

Opening duo Alex Hales and Michael Lumb put on 62 before the former came down the pitch to Borthwick and was stumped by Mustard for a run-a-ball 30.

Graham Onions then had Riki Wessels caught behind by Mustard for four, but when Lumb went for 46 – caught by Liam Plunkett off Mitchell Claydon – the job was almost done with Notts on 94-3.

Adam Voges and Samit Patel saw their side home with ease and Durham must pick themselves up ahead of Wednesday’s trip to the County Ground to face Derbyshire in a T20 clash which starts at 7pm.