Middlesex till we die
A Grounded View from Durham
By Vic
November 5 2018

from Uxbridge to Durham

Vic Demain our old friend from his Uxbridge days gives his perspective of our final match of the season from his role as Durham groundsman. Many thanks for sharing. 
Durham v Middlesex is always a greatly anticipated fixture for myself as Head Groundsman at Durham CCC and a supporter of Middlesex CCC. However as time passes and team make ups change, the balance changes. Gone are old favourites Compton, Morgan and Simpson replaced by Bamber, Fuller and White.
Also gone is Richard Scott the coach. Back in December 2017 shortly after the fixtures were announced, Richard emailed to ask if it would be possible for the squad to train on the Sunday before the game. This is something that normally happens a couple of days prior to the fixture. Scott was organised and made sure all of the bases were covered. But then, some of the old faithfuls are still there - Gus, Jonno, Don, along with Murts, Dawid and Ollie.
This game had an added bonus as it was to see the end of a wonderful career, that of the Durham captain Paul Collingwood. One first met Paul at Uxbridge in 2008, shortly after he had been dropped from the England test side. He returned to the ranks to play a 50 overs game. We were somewhat concerned that he might be a little grumpy, but the truth is, he was charming and joked about looking for the short boundary on the athletics track side. MCCC got a below average score against a strong attack and sure enough Colly landed a few balls in the car park as he and Chanderpaul chased the total down.
Colly epitomises the NE spirt, he is determined and passionate about his trade. He represented two clubs, Shotley Bridge and Durham CCC, his cricketing hero was his elder brother and of course he represented his Country with honour. He will be missed next March, but will not be away for too long.
Pitches at The Riverside this season have supported the bowlers. This one was dry, white and cracked. No green at all. That said a 10.30 start in September in the NE pointed to another insertion. Dawid surprised all when asking for a toss, so much so that a coin needed to be called for. Having been bowled out for two scores of sixty in the last game at Leics, many considered that DCCC might have been bowled out before lunch.
Sure enough Middx struggled against fine bowling from Salisbury. Durham went in and Harte for the second time this season scored a hundred at home, no mean feat. Starting their second innings Middx pair of Gubbins and Eskinasi did what was needed and formed a partnership. Batting looks so much easier at Durham when two batsmen get set. Leaving Durham a target of 167 in the fourth innings proved too many and Middlesex ran out comfortable winners.
When the game was in the balance with Durham five down in the second innings, Gubbins fielding at deep point turned to the groundsman and said "great cricket wicket", this after taking a horrible blow on the shoulder early on day 1.
Of course the match is secondary to renewing old friendships with mates not seen for a while. Those that had managed to make the trip were rewarded with lovely weather and a very good game of cricket, despite the result!! Sadly one was missing although his wife and daughter made a great effort to drive up and back on day 2. The Diamond Ruled would have been well proud of their commitment.