Is Michael Richardson set for another new job at Durham, this time as an opening batsman?
Michael Richardson has been a Durham wicket-keeper, a specialist batsman at No.8, a No.3 and a middle-order player. Now the 30-year-old looks set to add another string to his bow at Chesterfield, as an opener.
Durham will take on Derbyshire in the County Championship Division Two game starting on Monday minus their opening pair from the first half of the season.
Keaton Jennings will instead be going in first at Lord’s as England’s Test series against South Africa gets underway from Thursday, and although Stephen Cook will not be doing likewise for the Proteas, his spell at the Riverside has ended.
Tom Latham was signed to replace Cook but has a stress fracture of the foot which will be delay his debut by weeks.
Cameron Steel will open, as against Worcestershire, and Graham Clark has opened in the past. But with the Cumbrian finding his feet at four, Richardson is expected to face the new ball instead.
Outstanding in 50-over cricket, Richardson has had another disappointing First-Class season so far. The constant changing of his role has not helped in the past, but this year there has been more clarity, with Stuart Poynter first-choice behind the stumps, allowing Richardson to settle into a middle-order role.
Instead a groin injury held him back when he needed to build on his limited-overs form.
He has only played once since – making 27 and 14 against Northamptonshire. Richardson averages 23 in the 2017 Championship, compared to 71 in the 50-over game.
With Ben Stokes and Mark Wood also set to feature at Lord’s, all-rounders Paul Coughlin and Matthew Potts are in a 13-man squad, though Barry McCarthy’s recent form – with bat as well as ball – means one may have to stand down if the pitch is to the liking of Derbyshire’s new signing, Imran Tahir.
“If they do leave it a bit dry for Imran Tahir, (slow left-armer) George Harding might come back into the options,” coach Jon Lewis confirmed.
Usman Arshad is in a Championship squad for the first time since his pre-season ankle operation and although he may be on the sidelines, he can expect to play a big part in Durham’s Twenty20 campaign which starts at home to Lancashire on Friday. James Weighell is not yet fit enough for a four-day run-out, but Durham’s bowling star of this year’s One-Day Cup could also feature that night.
Assuming he plays, Tahir will equal Marcus North’s record of playing for six counties having also turned out for Nottinghamshire, Hampshire, Warwickshire, Yorkshire and Middlesex. He also appeared for Durham’s Second XI in 2004.
Tahir’s other teams include Delhi Daredevils, Lahore, Pakistan A, Pakistan Under-19s, Pakistan International Airlines, Redco Pakistan Ltd, Rising Pune Supergiants, Sialkot, South Africa A, Staffordshire, Sui Gas Corporation of Pakistan, Sussex 2nd XI, the Water and Power Development Authority, and South African sides Dolphins, Easterns, Lions and Titans.
North played county cricket for Durham and Derbyshire, and is now player-chief executive at South North.
With Leicestershire not in action, victory will take Durham off the bottom of the table for the first time this season.
They were outplayed by Worcestershire in their day-night game, 170 runs behind when rain ended it after an innings each. It stopped them building on their maiden four-day win of the season, at home to Glamorgan.
“We’d played pretty well for eight days against Kent (a draw) and Glamorgan but we didn’t really live up to those standards in the brief amount of cricket we played against Worcestershire,” said Lewis.
“There were some changes (the match was played with a pink ball) and I don’t think we adapted particularly well to that. I don’t think they were especially difficult, although there were some tricky moments.
“You could argue the rain helped us in that it allowed us to come away from the game with a solid draw of sorts allowed us to take a step forward rather than taking a step back.”
DURHAM (from): Steel, Richardson, Burnham, Clark, Collingwood (c), Pringle, P Coughlin, Poynter (wk), Potts, Arshad, McCarthy, Rushworth, Harding
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