Durham, England’s northern most cricketing county, only achieved first class status in 1992. As such it’s doesn’t have a long, rich or distinguished Ashes history but here it is none the less.
Graham Onions is a wicket to wicket pace bowler, blessed with accuracy and control – think a poor man’s Trent Copeland and you have the picture. He played the middle 3 tests of the 2009 Ashes and showcased all of his talents in the 3rd test at Edgbaston. Day 2 began with Onions bowling to Shane Watson, who in his first test innings as an opener, was on 57. Unsurprisingly Onions pinned Watson on the crease LBW first ball. Out strode Mike Hussey who shouldered arms to his first ball and was bowled. Brilliant. Thefirst two balls of the day, two wickets.
How do I know all this information in such great detail? Well I was there, in fact I had been at the ground since 9:10am a whole 110 minutes before the first ball. Fair to say it wasn’t the start I had hoped for and the very long build up of anticipation to watching a day of glorious strokeplay was shattered. Thanks Onions. I did get a free cup of bacon at the end of the day’s play which went some of the way to making up for the disappointment. I also saw Graeme Manou’s only test but that didn’t help.
Phil Mustard has been a mainstay behind the stumps for Durham for the best part of a decade and many a County Championship scorecard from a Durham game has read bowled Onions caught Mustard. Here’s hoping this combination will be honoured in the same way as the slightly better known combination of Dennis Lillee and Rod Marsh were: the Lillee Marsh stand adorns their home ground, the WACA in Perth. Who knows one day there may well be a Onions Mustard stand at Durham, presumably located near the hotdog vans.
3. Emirates Durham International Cricket Ground, The Riverside Ground, Chester Le Street, Durham.
The ground has some names I’ll give you that. Whilst it is located in the county of Durham the ground isn’t located in the county capital, the city of Durham (population 87,000) it’s located in the town of Chester-Le-Street (population 23,000). No it’s not in France as I first thought it’s actually 10 miles up the road. Chester-Le-Street is a quaint village type choice of base for cricket in the north east of England given that the big city of Newcastle (population 270,000) is just a further 10 miles away, admittedly in a different county. I guess Geordies are more keen on football than cricket.
The Riverside Ground first hosted international cricket during the 1999 World Cup and then rose to test status in 2003 with the 2013 Ashes test being just the 5th test match at the venue. Durham recently returned to the ECB two England matches (a T20 versus India in 2014 and an ODI against Australia in 2015) it had won in the ECB’s tender process for hosting international games. With International fixtures being the lifeblood of the smaller counties/minor grounds in England could the current test be the only Ashes test at Chester-Le-Street? If it is it will likely be remembered for Australia’s horid final innings batting collapses rather than the venue of Chris Roger’s maiden test century I feel.
2. Paul Collingwood
Paul Collingwood was the first Durham player to play for England and the first Durham player to score a Test century. A determined batsmen and partnership breaking medium pace bowler, Collingwood’s highest score was 206 at the Adelaide Oval in 2006. Unfortunately no one remembers this instead the test is famous for England’s calamitous batting collapse on the 5th day which meant they lost the unlosable test which culminated in a 5-0 series whitewash.
Collingwood was a very small time contributor in the 2005 Ashes doing his best Andy Bichel impersonation for the first 4 tests ( ie he was 12th man) before replacing the injured Simon Jones for the 5th test. His sum total contribution for the entire series was 1 innings of 17 runs and no wickets, yet Collingwood received an MBE like all his team mates. This fact did not escape the attention of one SK Warne who remided Collingwood of his ‘undeserved’ MBE at every opportunity. Warne remorselessly sledged Collingwood about his MBE during his last Test innings at the SCG in 2007. Those St Kilda supporters really do hate Collingwood!
Collingwood’s sole contribution of note in 2010/11 was choreographing England’s victory celebration at the MCG – the sprinkler dance.
[Cricket Australia – have a good hard look at what you are putting up on youtube. England celebrating a Ashes series win by dancing on the MCG? Really? I would like to see the reaction if Australia won the Ashes at Lord’s and pulled out their own rehearsed dance manoeuvres. Actually I should be careful what I wish for given Steve Smith and Dave Warner are in the current team. Who am I kidding what are Australia going to win anytime soon?]
1. Steve Harmison
Steve Harmison is a towering 6 foot 4 inch fast bowler with menacing bounce and pace whose best saw him rise to be the number 1 ranked bowler in Test cricket but whose worst made Mitchell Johnson look like Brian Statham (parsimonious line & length bowling that is not abominable sleeve tattoos)
Harmison’s lack of control, premature retirement from one day cricket, renowned homesickness and dislike for touring – his ideal off season would be to sit around in cold old England watching his beloved Newcastle United rather than tour summer destinations like the West Indies or Australia. – added fuel to suggestions that he was mentally suspect and didn’t have the intestinal fortitude when things got tough.
Harmison started tours like he intended to finish them.
He kicked off the 2002/03 tour of Australia by sending down 16 wides in a tour match at Lilac Hill. He started with seven consecutive wides according to some reports.
In 2005 he struck stuck Justin Langer and Ricky Ponting in his opening spell of the first test at Lords before going on to take 5 wickets in the innings.
In 2009 Harmison did very little and played the last of his 63 tests when the series ended at The Oval. However he will always be remembered for “that” ball – the first ball of the 2006/07 Ashes which set the tone for a 5-0 England series loss. Wait for Bill Lawry’s barb at the end.