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Do Durham care about Pro40?
WHILE both the County Championship and Pro40 games both had their moments of interruption this week, there seemed to be a sizeable proportion of the crowd being less frustrated as usual, as it meant they could switch their focus to the Oval.
For the County Championship, it largely meant a crowd of earpieces and the reassuring burble of Test Match Special in all its long wave glory, replete with bathetic tension-shattering switches to the other great crackling British institution of the shipping forecast.
Sunday's eventually farcical Pro40 tie found members scurrying up and downstairs between interruptions for drizzle, while the majority of the crowd were treated to surreal moments of radio listeners cheering wickets some seconds before the TV feed hit the big screen.
In some respects, the way in which the attentions of the crowd slipped away from the Pro 40 match seemed somewhat fitting.
Without shaking your fist skywards, it seems unreasonable to blame the incessant drizzle that spoilt the game, but the umpiring inconsistencies towards what constituted light suitable to play in, something particularly evident in Twenty20, hardly helped the small crowd's enjoyment.
The weather, combined with the excitement developing at the Oval, had ensured a smaller than usual crowd, but perhaps the realisation that by playing a raw, if talented, young side, Durham care little about actually winning the tournament, and this ambivalence towards it has seeped into the crowd's attitude.
While Michael Di Venuto's early season one-day form had been questionable and not up to his immensely high standards in the County Championship, the decision to drop Dale Benkenstein, perhaps the most consistent one-day middle order batsman that the club has ever had, seems to indicate any lack of desire to be taking the competition that seriously.
On the surface, his inclusion was so that the no doubt highly-paid Shiv Chanderpaul could be accommodated, but there was surely space for him in a line-up full of young all-rounders, if of course you wanted to give yourself the best opportunity of actually win the game.
The continued inclusion of inconsistent Ben Harmison at three in the batting order, while the in-form Coetzer, who must be surely knocking on the door of the Championship side, at six seems particularly baffling.
But just as the League Cup in football is poorly attended, with crowds unwilling to pay to see youngsters and reserves, Pro40 this season may suffer the same fate.
The march towards the County Championship had been similarly attended over the three days, despite the inevitability of the result after the team's first innings, which showed a certain similarity with the game at the Oval.
Warwickshire's inability to deal with the swinging ball at any pace, with only Ian Westwood's dogged second innings knock showing the only real resistance, made it look like a reasonably straightforward win for Durham, which was only emphasised by Chanderpaul's contemptuous six to win the game.
It is clear that this is where the priority lies and with Harmison and Onions returning after Ashes duty, it will be interesting to see who steps aside for them, especially as it seems that the former may just be too old for the current Pro40 team demographic, no matter how good his form is.
Thorp seems certain to keep his place, but it may well be a case of picking names from a hat for the other places, especially given Liam Plunkett's average with the bat.
Whoever gets the nod, there'll certainly be a real desire to win that particular competition.