Tough run of Championship matches will test injury-hit Durham

Durham batsman Graham Clark will feature against Sussex in the Championship match which starts at Hove on Sunday.
Durham batsman Graham Clark will feature against Sussex in the Championship match which starts at Hove on Sunday.
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Durham are down to the bare bones as they prepare for a hectic period of four-day cricket.

Michael Richardson suffered a groin injury while batting in the final Royal London Cup game against Lancashire on Tuesday and could be out for two weeks.

With Jack Burnham still a few days away from returning, via the second team, from his broken thumb, Durham will hand Graham Clark his first championship appearance of the season at Hove on Sunday.

After playing Sussex, they have one free day on which to travel to Swansea to face Glamorgan for the first time for 12 years in four-day combat.

Then it’s back to base for two more Specsavers County Championship matches in the first 11 days of June.

“The schedule is going to stretch some bodies,” said coach Jon Lewis.

“With the travelling as well, it’s not ideal for bowlers.

“We have Graham Onions fit and fresh after sitting out the Royal London Cup, but Mark Wood is away with England, Barry McCarthy is with Ireland and Brydon Carse needs two more weeks to get over a back problem.

“Usman Arshad will start his comeback purely as a batsman in the seconds next week.”

Batting-wise Durham have the option to hand a Championship debut to either Cameron Steel or new signing Gareth Harte, the England-qualified South African who has scored two centuries in the second team.

With Ryan Pringle struggling for form, they will also consider their other off-spinning all-rounder Adam Hickey, who replaced him last season before being injured.

“We see Adam as a genuine all-rounder and that’s what we want him to be,” said Lewis.

“George Harding has done really well as a frontline spinner in the 50-over games, but we want our spinner to be able to bat in the top six, because it balances the side.

“George likes to bat and is working hard at it.”

Had it not been for their two-point deduction, Durham would have finished third in the Royal London Cup’s North group, qualifying for a semi-final play-off.

Equally, they could have survived by winning either of their last two games – against Worcestershire and Lancashire – and Lewis said: “It feels like a bit of a let-down.

“But until those last two games we had done better than expected.

“When Stephen Cook was away, if you took away Paul Collingwood the other 10 had played fewer than 100 List A games between them.”