Borthwick turns on the style
Durham ripped through MCC’s batting line-up for the second day in a row to move within three wickets of victory in the county season curtain-raiser in Abu Dhabi.
If MCC’s labours in the field on Monday suggested the pink ball being trialled in this prestigious fixture offers little for the bowlers, Durham have gone about proving the opposite ever since.
They bowled MCC out for 162 yesterday and reduced them to 156 for seven by stumps on day three after declaring on 228 for six in their second innings.
That left MCC 370 runs adrift of a nominal target of 526 at the Sheikh Zayed Stadium, with 19-year-old leg-spinner Scott Borthwick and Ian Blackwell sharing six wickets in the final session.
Steve Kirby, who took two late wickets last night to leave Durham seven for two, started with another fiery spell this morning, beating Blackwell with a bouncer and clattering Will Smith on the helmet.
Jon Lewis, who has been struggling with a thigh problem for much of the match, came on first change and proceeded to bowl Smith via the bottom edge with his first ball of the innings.
Dean Cosker found Blackwell’s outside edge with a loosener and, although Phil Mustard - batting at five in a much-changed Durham order, quickly opened up with a handful of crisp strokes - first-class debutant Ben Stokes could manage only seven before he was pinned lbw by Alex Gidman as Durham stumbled to 74 for five.
Mustard dashed a single just before the break to bring up his fifty, which included eight fours, but fell two balls into the afternoon session when he carved James Middlebrook to James Taylor.
Kyle Coetzer - one of two Durham centurions in the first innings, and Callum Thorp were offered some fairly easy pickings as MCC's frontline bowlers were withdrawn in favour of part-time spin from Taylor and Dawid Malan.
Thorp took full advantage, helping himself to a rare half-century before moving up the gears to pass his previous first-class best of 75 with two thrashed boundaries off Taylor. He finished unbeaten on 79.
Coetzer, meanwhile, followed up his career-best 172 in the first innings with an organised 52 not out.
As in the first innings, Steve Harmison struck with the new ball when MCC set out on their mission to save the game.
After Scott Newman played on, Blackwell pinned David Sales leg before and had Malan taken by substitute fielder Mark Stoneman.
Blackwell’s left-arm spin continued to trouble the batsmen, with Gidman bowled for a breezy 17 attempting a paddle sweep.
James Foster went lbw for six as Borthwick made an impact with his first ball, and Middlebrook picked out Will Smith off the same bowler moments later.
Taylor, PCA Young Player of the Year last summer, made a composed 39 before he pulled Borthwick to Coetzer, who held a smart catch.
By now the result was a formality but Lewis and Tim Murtagh made 32 and 27 not out respectively, forging an unbroken eighth-wicket stand of 59 to take the game into the last day.
Even Harmison, who had, strangely, contributed just three overs with the new ball, was brought on for a second spell without joy.