Unbeaten Durham wait for injuries to subside

Durham are perceived to have made a moderate start to the season, yet despite suffering nine injuries they remain unbeaten.

The perception stems from the fact that they have dropped as many bowling bonus points in three matches as in the previous three seasons.

They achieved the maximum in every match last year after dropping one in 2007 and four in 2008, which were entirely due to the weather.

In this season’s opening match, Essex’s record fifth-wicket stand of 331 between Jaik Mickleburgh and James Foster restricted Durham to one bowling point. And at Headingley they failed to gain any.

Their County Championship start, however, has been better than last season’s, when they drew the first three games. This time they have a win and two draws, while their Clydesdale Bank record reads two wins and a washout.

Following the injuries to Michael Di Venuto, Dale Benkenstein and Callum Thorp suffered at Headingley, Will Gidman strained ankle ligaments in the Clydesdale Bank 40 win at Grace Road.

Sky Sports television coverage did Durham no favours in that match. Under the Duckworth/Lewis method it was announced that Leicestershire’s revised target would be 176, but in the third over Sky told the umpires that the target should be 181.

The hosts had apparently not installed new software issued to all counties over the winter, taking into account the new powerplays in this event.

Although the umpires informed the players of the error, under the regulations they had to stick with the target stipulated at the start of the innings. It was just as well that it did not affect the outcome as Leicestershire finished 21 runs short.

Just after the error came to light Will Jefferson, on seven, sliced Chris Rushworth to backward point, where Gidman claimed a low catch. The batsman stood his ground and as the Sky replay pictures were inconclusive the umpires allowed him to stay. Jefferson went on to make 45.

Steve Harmison, who has had a back injury, is the first of the walking wounded to make his comeback in the three-day game against Durham University this week.

It is hoped Di Venuto and Liam Plunkett, who both have side strains, will be fit to play in next week’s Championship match at Trent Bridge, but Benkenstein’s torn tendon in his kneecap makes him doubtful.

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