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DURHAM must have had a strong feeling of déjà vu as they batted first in their CB 40 League match at Taunton yesterday and struggled woefully on the usually run-laden pitch. They were all out for 147 with six overs unused.
As in last season’s semi-final at the same venue, Durham had a four-hour journey from Sussex the previous evening and had to go into the match without a break.
They chose to bat on a sunny day but found the pitch lacked its usual pace as three of the top four fell to driven catches.
The exception was Phil Mustard , who shaped to run the sixth ball of the match from Peter Trego to third man and edged to Craig Kieswetter.
Last year Durham slipped to 44 for four; this time it was even worse at 34 for four and there was no hint of a recovery as their collective batting failures continued.
It is hard to believe that a team with Dale Benkenstein at No 7 can struggle so badly, but the one-day captain’s run-out underlined how nothing will go right.
In last year’s semi-final he made 82 to give Durham respectability, but this time he departed for 16 when he set off for a very risky run to square leg and was beaten by Max Waller’s direct hit when Gareth Breese sent him back.
For the Somerset captain, Marcus Trescothick, everything went well on his return after his ankle operation.
He chose to open up with Trego and was rewarded by two more wickets after the dismissal of Mustard.
Johann Myburgh, promoted to three, made one before driving to short extra cover and Mark Stoneman drove a return catch after scoring 17.
Paul Collingwood had already gone down the pitch to Trego and missed when he departed for seven, driving medium pacer Craig Meschede to extra cover.
Ben Stokes made a quiet start before hitting two fours, only to pull leg-spinner Max Waller’s second ball into the hands of James Hildreth at deep square leg.
Stokes is averaging 12.5 in this competition this season, while Gordon Muchall came into this match averaging 66.25 following his unbeaten 96 against Hampshire last week.
He again set about repairing the damage but fell for 24 when a leg stump ball from Waller did not come on as he expected and he chipped a catch to short mid-wicket.
Waller had two for 17 after seven overs but conceded 12 off his last as Mitch Claydon hit him for four and six in putting on 30 for the ninth wicket with Breese, who remained unbeaten on 31.