Durham can still beat Middlesex says Mark Stoneman

BAT'LL DO NICELY: Durham's top scorer Mark Stoneman
BAT'LL DO NICELY: Durham's top scorer Mark Stoneman

OPENING batsman Mark Stoneman says Durham are refusing to rule out victory in their County Championship clash with Middlesex.

Just 18 overs of play were possible yesterday on another rain-affected day at the Emirates ICG.

That meant when play restarted today on the final day, a draw seemed the most likely outcome.

But Stoneman says Durham will not be just going out and settling for a share of the spoils.

“Hopefully we get a full day today,” he said. “The seam attack have been bowling well for us, so if we can get enough runs on the board, with enough time left, hopefully we can try to force a positive result.”

That doesn’t mean that the hosts will be going hell for leather to try to fire themselves into an impressive, with Stoneman revealing they are more likely to adopt a more considered approach.

He said: “It’s (the Emirates ICG) generally a fast scoring field, so it’s a case of sticking in and getting a solid base, and see where we go from there.

“If we can start well and get a bit of luck you never know, but we don’t have to rush into anything.”

Having been on and off the field no fewer than five times on day two, Durham would have been hoping to build a considerable second innings lead.

They closed on 37-0 on Thursday night, a lead of 100 after bowling Middlesex all out for 196.

Stoneman resumed on 31, and he reached 50 for the fifth time in his last seven championship innings before falling to the next ball.

Middlesex bowler James Harris appeared to stifle his lbw appeal, but Hartlepool umpire George Sharp’s finger was already raised.

And the Durham man admitted he thought the decision could have gone either way.

“I didn’t get any bat on it, but I though it was going down the leg side,” he said. “That happens with decisions, sometimes you get them, sometimes you don’t.”

Play didn’t start yesterday until 4.15pm in gloomy light, and five overs later they were off again as further rain prevented a resumption until 5.15pm.

There were still 20 overs to be bowled, but after 13 overs, umpires Sharp and Martin Bodenham decided the light was too poor to continue and play was abandoned for the day.

Before the close, Harris went close to bowling Keaton Jennings on 16 with a ball which moved sharply into the left-hander, and passed just over his off stump.

Otherwise the opener looked untroubled in reaching 28 not out, while Scott Borthwick reached 11 unbeaten as Durham closed on 89-1 a lead of 152.

In an ideal world Durham would have liked to be considerably further in front had the weather allowed it, but Stoneman remained positive.

He said: “It was far from ideal, but we had a decent little session before the end to get another 60 runs on the board, so we see how it pans out from there.”