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Durham suffer Old Trafford thumping
DURHAM suffered a midsummer murder last night as they were totally outplayed by Lancashire in the Friends Life t20 game at Old Trafford.
On a glorious Manchester evening they subsided tamely to 121 all out and the hosts cantered home by eight wickets with six overs to spare.
Durham have been fortunate with the weather, but halfway through the ten-match programme they have suffered three defeats and will need a huge improvement to make progress.
The big guns failed to fire and Durham were almost out of the contest at 65 for five in the 12th over before Gareth Breese showed what was possible by plundering 33 off 18 balls.
Onions then suffered the ignominy of having 23 thrashed off his third over, the fifth of the innings, by Steven Croft.
As Gary Keedy had taken four for 25, Durham needed to get their twirlers on. But Lancashire were already halfway to their target after eight overs when Scott Borthwick saw his first three balls dispatched for 12 runs by Tom Smith.
As the big left-hander proved equally adept at reverse-sweeping Breese, Durham had nowhere to turn as the runs kept flowing with embarrassing ease. Croft remained unbeaten on 65, made off 44 balls.
It was Durham's first visit since the Old Trafford pitches were turned through 90 degrees to prevent play being halted by the setting sun.
As at Derby last week, the sun was still high in the sky for the 7.10 start in front of the Sky cameras, yet the new floodlights were on 40 minutes before play began. They were scarcely needed at the end.
After his decision to insert Yorkshire on Friday backfired, Dale Benkenstein chose to bat first but Durham managed only four off each of the first two overs, bowled by Smith and Glen Chapple.
Yasir Arafat, who has played for four counties as well as Scotland, came on for the third over and after lofting one pull wide of long-on for two runs Herschelle Gibbs tried it again and skied to mid-on to depart for six.
Ben Stokes' struggle to get to grips with this form of the game continued as he scored four off nine balls before having the misfortune to hit his wicket.
He played a forcing back-foot shot to mid-wicket off Chapple and went for a single, apparently unaware that his off stump was leaning back.
Durham had only 30 on the board after the six overs of powerplay and Phil Mustard's attempts to step on the gas resulted in him being run out.
After making 22 off 20 balls he reverse swept left-arm spinner Stephen Parry straight to Arafat at short third man.
Johan Myburgh went through for the run but Mustard did no more than take one stride down the pitch, where he was marooned while the throw went unerringly to the non-striker's end.
As Durham couldn't get Parry away it was no surprise when the other left-arm spinner, Keedy, came on for the tenth over and his second ball turned to beat Benkenstein's backward defensive stroke and hit off stump.
At 56 for four at the halfway stage it was difficult to see how Durham could post a competitive total unless Myburgh middled a few.
But the first time he went for a big one he holed out at long-on for 22 to give Keedy a second wicket.
Keedy's third over, the 14th, was the first off which Durham managed a decent return as Breese collected 14 runs, which included fours from a lofted drive over extra cover and a reverse sweep.
When Muchall drove Smith over long-on for six in the next over Durham finally had some momentum.
But after 35 had come off four overs the return of Arafat for the 17th saw both batsmen perish. Muchall was out for the first time in five innings when he drove to long-on and Breese drove equally firmly straight to deep mid-off.
Keedy returned for his final over and bamboozled Liam Plunkett, who played on before Mitch Claydon offered a return catch off the next ball. Despite conceding 14 in over, Keedy finished with four for 25.
Durham were fortunate to make a breakthrough in the second over. Claydon's first ball was cut for six by Stephen Moore and the second, another long hop, was pulled into the hands of Myburgh at deep square leg.
Onions and Claydon then kept things tight until Croft went berserk, hitting Onions' for sixes over long-on and backward square leg.
Standing well back in his crease, Croft advanced to meet most balls but was as strong on the pull as the drive.
When Plunkett replaced Claydon his fourth ball was smashed over cover for six as Croft raced to 50 off 34 balls.
He added a fourth six with a monstrous hit off Borthwick over long-on just before Smith lofted the same bowler to long-off to depart for 40 with only six needed.
Durham now need to win both their remaining games this week, at home to Derbyshire tomorrow and at Trent Bridge on Friday.