x Abu Dhabi, UAEMonday 24 July 2017

Durham quick to end MCC torment in Abu Dhabi

The English county champions win by 311 runs after taking the three remaining MCC wickets inside 45 minutes in the UAE capital.

Durham's bowlers wasted no time in wrapping up a comprehensive 311-run victory over the MCC in the first match of the county season at the Zayed Cricket Stadium in Abu Dhabi. The champions resumed on day four needing three more wickets and mopped up the tail in 45 minutes. While the staging of the curtain-raiser to the English domestic cricket season was unfamiliar, Durham's status as the side to beat in English cricket is fast becoming the norm. Nevertheless, the focus has been less about the build up to the summer programme and more about the innovations on show, chiefly the use of a pink ball under floodlights.

Durham had looked likely to wrap up victory inside three days until Tim Murtagh and Jon Lewis put on an unbroken 59-run stand for the eighth wicket last night. But having delayed Durham's inevitable triumph and ensured their bowlers would have to return for one final push in the heat, Lewis (32) promptly threw away his wicket off the first ball of the day. Ian Blackwell was the bowler, but he will take little satisfaction from the delivery, a slow long hop that Lewis somehow contrived to nick to wicketkeeper Phil Mustard. Steve Harmison took only eight balls to add the wicket of Dean Cosker (14) at the other end.

The out-of-favour England bowler has looked dangerous when motivated, which has been intermittently at best, and had no problems beating the Glamorgan player's defences to win a clearcut lbw verdict. Murtagh, now with only Steve Kirby for company, quickly added the 23 he needed to reach 50 and was dropped by Mustard off Harmison moments later. He finished 55 not out as Kirby fell for 16 to 19-year-old leg-spinner Scott Borthwick, who picked up his fourth wicket of the innings and eighth of the match with a googly. * PA Sport