Derbyshire 192 (Madsen 77)
Durham won by 55 runs
The ninth wicket stand between Gordon Muchall and Chris Rushworth took this game away from Derbyshire, on a day when their limp middle order once again failed to function. Durham ran out comfortable winners, despite a brave and nigh-solo hand from Wayne Madsen, whose 77 was the highest score of the game.
At 183-8, we had every chance of taking it, but as the home side's score mounted towards 250, each run seemed like a nail in the coffin of our winning chance. I don't look at this Derbyshire side and see it chasing down 250 in 50 overs and therein lies an obvious area for winter strengthening.
Muchall does that kind of rescue act on a regular basis for Durham and we need someone like him at the 3aaa County Ground. Young players can and will improve over the winter and their comfort in such situations will be easier with experience, but we need a couple of older heads in there for next year. Their presence will help the youngsters and, for me, help to accelerate their progress.
It would have been handy to have overseas input in such a situation but once again Dilshan failed. I would have loved to have seen Rutherford in the side today, because I can put no gloss on what has been an horrific stint by the Sri Lankan. I have no doubt that he has tried his best, but with the pressure of the overseas role comes a need to perform and an expectation of results, especially from an international name of such standing.
When I look at the side and actually feel it would be stronger were he not in it, I'm saddened. The signing was acclaimed and seemed a very good one at the time, but it hasn't worked out in any way shape or form.
Of more benefit, as far as I am concerned for the remainder of the summer, would be giving a run to Tom Knight. Batting at four for the seconds today, against Nottinghamshire, Tom held the innings together with 97. He has made enough runs in that side to justify an opportunity and, irrespective of whether his bowling comes back (I think it will, for the record) he could be a good enough batsman for the senior side in the long-term.
It would be a brave man who omitted an international star in favour of a youngster, but those long-term aspirations are of far greater importance than any short-term niceties. I'm not laying today's loss at Dilshan's door at all, but if you are looking at playing our strongest side just now, I don't think you could say he would be in it. 199 runs in 13 innings across the formats tells its own story, I am afraid and perhaps for his sake, as well as ours, it is time for a breather.
Pride and contracts to play for in the remainder of the season, opportunity there to be grasped...
Who will take it?