Paul Coughlin and Phil Mustard swing balance
The clash between two teams battling to avoid Championship relegation produced a rollercoaster opening day which swung back Durham’s way via an unbroken ninth-wicket stand of 126 between Phil Mustard and Paul Coughlin.
Making his Championship debut because of injuries to Graham Onions, Mark Wood and Jamie Harrison, 21-year-old Coughlin fearlessly rode some early luck to make an unbeaten 71 against Lancashire, with Durham ending on 310 for 8. Mustard, dropped down to No. 8, showed unusual restraint in reaching 64. Prior to his arrival the balance had tipped Lancashire’s way through a five-wicket haul for Kyle Hogg.
After the start was delayed for 15 minutes by rain Durham were inserted in overcast conditions and raced to 70 for 1 after 13 overs. They then took a further 37 overs to double the score while losing five more wickets before Gordon Muchall and Mustard put on 57.
Muchall departed for 35 when a sweetly timed clip off Hogg flew straight to midwicket and the bowler completed his haul when John Hastings pushed forward and edged behind.
National selector James Whitaker was present to watch Ben Stokes after surprisingly leaving him out of the squad for the first Test. But the allrounder made only 21 before he was bowled by a ball from Kabir Ali which kept low.
Whitaker would also have been interested in Lancashire’s left-arm spinner Simon Kerrigan, but in conditions much more suited to the seamers he had none for 31 in nine overs. Australia Test batsman Usman Khawaja was making his debut for Lancashire.
Glen Chapple’s decision to insert on an overcast morning made more sense than when Middlesex chose to field in sunny conditions in the last match here and proceeded to bowl poorly in conceding a total of 568 for 9. But Lancashire did not bowl badly early on and with conditions in their favour they always looked as though they should be taking wickets. The Durham openers rode their luck with thick edges contributing to Kabir conceding 27 of the 28 runs which came off the first six overs.
Hogg was always threatening, as much through the extra bounce he occasionally extracted as from the modicum of sideways movement. It was the bounce which accounted for Paul Collingwood, caught at gully. But although he finished with five wickets, he bowled no better than the wicketless Chapple, who played a key role in strangling the innings after its rapid start.
He kept a firm lid on Stokes, who diligently survived some probing bowling after lunch then straight drove the first ball of Kabir’s second spell for four, only to be bowled by the next.
Conditions eased in the evening and although Coughlin enjoyed some luck none of the seamers could do anything to unsettle him.