We began our 2-day game against Durham at the Racecourse Ground needing at least 17 points to overhaul Loughborough and guarantee ourselves a place in the MCCU Challenge Final at Lord’s. Meanwhile, Cardiff were taking on Cambridge down at Fenner’s, knowing that if they got 4 more points from their game they we got from ours, they would overtake us. Two matches, three teams, a Championship title and two spots at Lord’s up for grabs. Perfectly poised.
After the downpour on Monday the weather had done a complete turn-around. After losing the toss the hosts were asked to bat first. Durham, having lost all their previous four 2-day games, were clearly determined not to make it 5 and began very cautiously against some accurate, probing bowling from the seamers. MacDonnell and Clark had advanced slowly before Harry Rouse drew first blood in the 25th over when he trapped Clark leg before with the total on 47.
Three overs before lunch Durham were looking steady on 68 for 1, before George Scott struck 3 times in the space of 7 deliveries in probably his best spell of the season. MacDonnell was his first victim, edging to the safe hands of Logan Weston at slip. Steel then nicked one through to Steve Bullen and just 3 balls later Gibson became another LBW victim. Going in to lunch at 69 for 4 having lost 3 wickets for 1 run, the session had turned Yellow.
Durham battled extremely well in the afternoon session with most batsmen getting in. The whole attack bowled superbly though, Archie Ogden being particularly unlucky, beating the bat with amazing regularity but with nobody being quite good enough to get an edge.
An annoying stand of 76 between Bishnoi and Sohal was ended when Scott got into the action once again, this time taking a good catch of Liam Watkinson to dismiss the latter. A number of steady partnerships edged their score past 250 – albeit slowly – before they were finally all out for 279 from the last ball of the day in the 104th over. There were 4 wickets for Scott, 3 for Ellis-Grewal and omen each for Ogden, Rouse and Watkinson.
Four bowling points in the bag and 280 needed tomorrow to secure the 3 batting points and a first innings win to get the 17 needed to overhaul Loughborough.
Meanwhile, down at Fenners, Cardiff had already secured a first innings win on a day that saw 25 wickets fall and were ell on the way to an outright victory.