England star Stokes on the comeback trail to help Durham have a Blast
Durham hope to have Ben Stokes available for the NatWest T20 Blast finals at Edgbaston next Saturday after qualifying for only the second time.
While any changes to the side which beat Gloucestershire by 19 runs at Bristol would be made reluctantly, Jack Burnham is the obvious candidate to make way.
The highy-rated youngster failed to score in his only appearance in the group matches and came into the quarter-final because Calum MacLeod chose to play for Scotland.
When Durham scrambled into the last eight by winning their final group game against Derbyshire, MacLeod starred with 83 off 50 balls.
Stokes has stepped up his training this week as he recovers from his calf injury and Durham coach Jon Lewis said: “It’s not inconceivable that we could play him as a batsman in the Championship at Lord’s (the four-day match begins tomorrow). “He played a few one-day games for us just as a batsman when he was recovering from his knee operation. But a calf is a bit different.
“He could stand at slip, but he’s not the type to chase a ball to the boundary half-heartedly and England know that. They might want him fit to bowl as well before they let him play.”
Skipper Paul Collingwood returned from his own calf injury at Bristol and showed his rustiness with the ball when he conceded 22 in five balls.
Two of those were no-balls above waist height, which meant he was not allowed to continue.
He said afterwards: “Who knows what this team is capable of – as long as I don’t bowl.”
Michael Richardson was the regular four-day wicketkeeper until handing over to Stuart Poynter at Taunton last week – he has taken over the T20 gloves only since Phil Mustard went on loan to Gloucestershire.
Richardson had previously hit only one six in T20 cricket, but the three he thrashed in making 37 off 21 balls proved crucial after Durham had wobbled in mid-innings.
He also held an outstanding catch by his right ear when standing up to Chris Rushworth to get rid of Michael Klinger.
The win again underlined Durham’s resilience. The low point of their season was a 170-run thrashing at Northampton in the Royal London Cup just before Mark Stoneman announced he would be leaving for Surrey at the end of the season.
He was relieved of the one-day captaincy and since then he has performed well, while Durham have won their four completed one-day games.
The exception was the washed-out RLC tie at Old Trafford, where victory would have seen them finish top of their group. Instead they ended fifth.