Hang on newsmen, don't get carried away

THE life of a presenter on a 24 hour rolling sports news network must be a hellish existence; trapped forever in a never-ending stream of inescapable hyperbole, declaring any run-of-the-mill event as beyond comprehension of human experience or rumours as gospel truth passed down on tablets of stone from on high.

As Durham's game against Lancashire drew to a conclusion, a match hard-fought as it had been against not only a quality opposition, but a flat and lifeless pitch intended to cater to Gary Keedy's spin and their short-comings in the pace department, Sky Sports News went into overdrive in their proclamations.

With Will Smith having just about correctly timed his decision to declare, something which captains rarely seem to get credit for in making the tight calls, the early flurry of wickets had Durham more or less crowned champions by overeager presenters.

While I can appreciate the need to inject excitement into what is essentially cricket scores shown in less depth than a cursory glance through Teletext, this did seem to be premature.

What it did was more or less finish Lancashire's challenge for the title and therefore it seems a little odd that such a lifeless pitch was prepared.

To see 54 and then a whopping 92 overs of spin bowled by Lancashire was quite something to behold at Old Trafford, especially as it seemed like at one point Gary Keedy would get through the magical ton of overs.

Indeed some a thing is always something of a rarity during the English summer, especially in such a close game which so very nearly produced a result.

What this did serve to highlight was the spinning issue which has followed Durham around for many a season.

While there is no doubting that Ian Blackwell's first innings performance was as good as it was unexpected, as he recorded career best figures of 7-85, the fact that he was hampered by a blister to his thumb which restricted his performance in the second innings, showed that perhaps he had been overworked, having been a player who was more used as a second spinner for the majority of his career.

This is not to take away from Blackwell's bowling, which has been easily as effective as Paul Wiseman's last year, while adding the runs befitting a player batting at six, but perhaps there had been a lack of flexibility in the Durham team selection.

While there is understandably fierce competition in the pace department, something which will only intensify come the end of the Ashes, with both Harmison and Onions expected to return to county cricket, there has been a great deal more rigidity in the selection of the batting line-up.

Given the pitch was obviously so spin-friendly, there was surely a case to at least include Gareth Breese in the squad or give Scott Borthwick his long awaited debut.

Neither Mark Stoneman or Gordon Muchall have seemed irreplaceable in the line-up this season and surely one of them will have to make way for the now almost mythic arrival of Shiv Chanderpaul, so why not pick a team for the conditions.

Even if it were the case of tying up an end to keep Blackwell in better condition, perhaps Smith should have had sufficient faith in himself to bowl a few overs, after his tidy spell at the end of the second day's play.

This may seem like nit-picking, but if the title is to be ours as quickly as some would have you believe, then the opportunity to close out games against our immediate rivals must be taken.

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