Blogs & Opinion


The perfect Yardstick

Rivals get chance to measure title credentials

Ian Ward Posted 27th August 2009 view comments

All eyes will be on Hove on Friday for a match that could go a long way to determining the destiny of the NatWest Pro40 top-flight title.

With Hampshire and Somerset going well in the competition, Durham's trip down to Sussex is an important match given how delicately-poised the division is.

The Sharks will be desperate to rally after their defeat to the Sabres last time out and rediscover the form that took them to the Twenty20 Cup crown and FP Trophy final.

Dangerman: Blackwell's all-round ability make him major threat

Dangerman: Blackwell's all-round ability make him major threat

For a long period of time their Holy Grail was the County Championship and as they won it for the first time in 2003, then again in 2006 and 2007, perhaps the county lost some focus on their one-day form - despite the C&G Trophy success of 2006.

Comfortable

This season a lot of credit must go to skipper Michael Yardy who as the man in charge has insisted on a change of emphasis - it's no longer good enough just to fight on one front - while the club has also made some interesting one-day acquisitions.

Michael Atherton and Nasser Hussain saw Smith a long time ago when he was playing for the West Indies and were amazed by his talent back then and are surprised that he hasn't really kicked on with his career.

Ian Ward
Quotes of the week

LIVE ON SKY SPORTS
Sussex v Durham

4.30pm, Fri, Sky Sports 2 & HD2<

Ed Joyce has had a fabulous season in all competitions but he has had a stunner in particular in Pro40 and in him and Dwayne Smith - who is a serious one-day player - Sussex have two guys capable of changing any match.

Michael Atherton and Nasser Hussain saw Smith a long time ago when he was playing for the West Indies and were amazed by his talent back then and are surprised that he hasn't really kicked on with his career.

You look at his ability and where the West Indies are in the one-day pecking order and you think 'how can this man be so far away?'

I think he has struggled to find a home and people who believe in him so it's interesting that he's chosen to play for Sussex over the Deccan Chargers in the Champions League. I think Dwayne has now found a club and a set-up that appreciates him and he feels really comfortable as a result.

That can certainly go a long way to bringing the best out of a cricketer and, I guess, sportsmen as a whole.

People often change clubs and find a set-up, system or manager that inspires them. A Formula 1 driver can go from a big, top team to a smaller team and can feel more loved and wanted and up their game as a result. Golfers have changed caddies for the same reason.

Passion

There's no question that Steve Harmison has played some stunning cricket for Durham and at times been inconsistent for England, although he is far happier playing for his country at home.

Ashes-winner Harmison has not played in the Pro40 yet this year and has been left out of the Dynamos 12-man squad for this game but when he does come back into the side it will give his county a massive boost.

We all know the qualities he brings to a side, particularly at domestic level. I've interviewed Steve on several occasions about England and we always end up talking about Durham and you can see the passion in his eyes.

I get the impression also that he loves playing cricket with his brother, Ben, much as Adam and Ben Hollioake used to love playing together for Surrey.

Two other players who will be crucial to Durham's chances down at Hove are Phil Mustard and Shivnarine Chanderpaul, while I'd also single out Ian Blackwell, who is Durham's leading wicket-taker in Pro40 and someone who has also scored a lot of important runs.

He's a powerful striker who on a Hove surface that tends to be low and slow and spin-friendly, will have a key role to play. So too has someone like Gareth Breese because as much as we talk about the seam armoury that Durham possess, it could well be the slow bowlers that win them this match.

Comments (1)

  • Page 1 of 1
  • 1

Roger Pell says...

please tell me that the ground staff are more competant than the staff at Old Trafford. coz I am taking a day off work to watch, This summer is starting to look like a shambles organisation wise at least we grasped the ashes but we are in danger of looking like no hopers organising competitions and the schedulers have serious problems

Posted 21:35 2nd September 2009

  • Page 1 of 1
  • 1

Add Comment*

Send us your views

Are you a Sky Sports subscriber?

*All fields required, your email address will be kept private

back to top

Other Cricket Experts:

Latest Posts in Cricket:

Latest News RSS feeds

Colly: England future bright

Paul Collingwood believes whoever takes charge of the England team will have a promising squad at his disposal.

Div One: Joyce inspires Sussex

A brilliant unbeaten 151 from Ed Joyce steered Sussex to a seven-wicket victory over Warwickshire at Edgbaston.

England Lions set for SA tour

England Lions, the national team's second-string, have announced plans to tour South Africa in 2015.

Div One: Sussex on the brink

Ed Joyce has put Sussex on course for successive Division One wins, while Steven Finn was in the wickets for Middlesex.

Div Two: Cook deflates Derby

Alastair Cook posted 181 to put Essex on top against Derbyshire; Matches at Bristol and New Road in the balance.

Features

Indian Premier League 7: We preview the eight teams competing at this year's tournament

Indian Premier League 7: We preview the eight teams competing at this year's tournament

It only seems like yesterday that Brendon McCullum lit up the inaugural Indian Premier League with 158 off 73 balls. It wasn't, it was six years ago!

Live cricket on Sky

Live cricket on Sky

Sky Sports will feature every county live during a new look domestic season as part of an unrivalled summer of cricket.

Twenty20 specialist

Twenty20 specialist

Cricket is changing. Sixes are now measured, wickets light up when touched, we have mystery spinners, Duckworth-Lewis winners. It's evolving day by day.