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DURHAM’S decision to use Graham Onions sparingly after his hamstring strain did them no favours this morning as Middlesex’s overnight pair added 33 very useful runs before the three remaining wickets went down for eight runs.
The last two went to Onions, who was the fifth bowler used this morning, coming on after Callum Thorp had made the breakthrough.
Middlesex were all out for 185, a handy lead of 83, and with 40 minutes to bat before lunch Durham reached 32 for two.
With the squad for the second Test against South Africa to be announced tomorrow there is speculation that either Onions or Steven Finn will replace Tim Bresnan. But selector James Whitaker will have noted that the Durham spearhead does not appear to be at full throttle.
Despite that, it took him only 13 balls to grab the last two wickets, having already beaten left-hander Tim Murtagh three times in his first over.
Murtagh made 25 after shaking off an early blow on the helmet from Ben Stokes, bowling round the wicket.
This morning’s three victims were all caught by wicketkeeper Michael Richardson, the first being a good effort to get rid of Gareth Berg for 37.
When Durham batted Finn’s first ball was a leg-side wide and he appeared to have turned his ankle. Will Smith hooked the next ball for six but two balls later he was unable to cope with a steeply-bouncing delivery and steered it to second slip.
It became 24 for two when Mark Stoneman was caught behind off Murtagh for 14 for the second time in the match. He appeared to be surprised by umpire Peter Willey’s decision.
Gordon Muchall was again sent in at three and appeared anxious to get off strike as scampered singles took him to four at lunch. Stokes is on one.