Luckless Davies sidelined for two months

Durham’s astonishing tally of foot and ankle injuries last season has continued with four-day skipper Phil Mustard and seamer Mark Davies both suffering stress fractures to a foot.

There was a further scare on the final day of the match at Durham University when Ben Stokes, the final one to be afflicted last season, limped off after being struck on the foot while fielding at silly mid-off.

But at least he returned to end a seventh-wicket stand of 57 and wrap up the innings to finish with four for 33 as Durham won by an innings and 44 runs.

Mustard’s injury was kept quiet when he suffered it in training two months ago and Durham will gamble on him getting through the four days when they begin County Championship action at the Rose Bowl on April 8.

He went on the pre-season trip to Dubai but didn’t play and also missed the university match as he has only just been able to discard a protective boot.

The luckless Davies, however, who has a long history of injury troubles, will be out for up to two months. He had a back operation in the winter when it was found that the trapped nerve which ruled him out at the end of last season was caused by a disc.

He appeared to be back to full fitness when he developed his new injury during the pre-season warm-ups in Dubai.

Paul Collingwood, meanwhile, is booked in for keyhole surgery on a knee on April 14, six days after the start of the Indian Premier League. He is likely to be out for a month, so if he misses the IPL altogether he might become available to Durham before the Twenty20 Cup starts on June 2.

The Hampshire match will come just too soon for Graham Onions, who will continue his comeback following back surgery with some one-day action for the second team.

Physio Nigel Kent said: “The surgeon in London says Graham was a pioneer for that type of operation and it has worked fantastically well.

“It was strange that when Graham came back from Bangladesh last winter he felt pain in the right side of his back, but the scans showed the left side was fractured. The surgeon put a pin in the left side and stimulant around the right and it has gone brilliantly.

“Credit to Graham – he has stuck to his programme and we are just taking it day by day and building things up slowly to see how he reacts. He had hardly bowled for a year so if he overdoes it something else might go wrong. He played in a two-day game in Dubai and bowled nine good overs.”

There was a new casualty too on the final day against the university when 21-year-old debut boy Mark Wood, the pick of the seamers in the first innings, tweaked a hamstring during the morning fielding practice. He is a Durham Academy product who comes from Ashington.

Liam Plunkett scored his maiden first-class century before Durham declared on 471 for eight in reply to 235. After a disappointing season with the bat last year, Plunkett batted very sensibly and spent ten overs in the 90s before ending unbeaten on 107.

He put on 232 with Ian Blackwell, which was the second highest seventh-wicket stand for Durham behind the 315 shared by Dale Benkenstein and Ottis Gibson at Headingley in 2006.

Plunkett had a first-class batting average of 40.8 in the 2009 season, when he made his previous best score of 94 not out against Sussex at Hove. He was clearly determined to improve on that after his average dropped to 14.65 last season. He reached his century off 177 balls.

*Following India’s World Cup triumph the last remaining tickets for the NatWest one-day international at Emirates Durham ICG on Saturday, September 3 have been sold. A capacity crowd of more than 17,000 will see the world champions take on England in their only visit to the North-East this year.

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