“RIGHT, just before the teams come out, let’s have a crowd challenge,” screamed the matchday announcer.
“Name as many vegetables as you can in 30 seconds.”
A volunteer stepped forward and proceeded to babble, in a thick north-east accent: “Er, spuds, er, er, marrows, er, tomatoes, er, er, cabbages. Er, how many’s that? Er, did I say spuds?” And so on.
Thankfully, the cricket was a little more interesting than the pre-match preamble, which consisted of said announcer – apparently paid by the word – hamming the game up as “derby day”, where there are “massive bragging rights at stake”, as though it was a football match between nearby Newcastle and Sunderland.
In glorious sunshine in the shadow of Lumley Castle, those bragging rights, such as they were, went to Durham, who won by one run as Yorkshire fell to their third straight defeat to leave their quarter-final hopes in the balance.
After winning the toss, Durham made 157-3, Paul Collingwood top-scoring with an unbeaten 88 from 54 balls with seven fours and two sixes, and Michael Richardson striking an undefeated 32 from 28 with three fours, the pair adding 86.
David Willey top-scored with 40 from 29 in Yorkshire’s reply, but the visitors fell short despite needing 43 from the last five overs with six wickets left and Willey still batting.
In front of 6,512 spectators, a decent crowd given that bottom club Durham had lost seven of their previous eight games, the hosts started ponderously by T20 standards.
Yorkshire, for whom Alex Lees replaced the injured Shaun Marsh in the only change to the side that lost to Derbyshire at Headingley 24 hours earlier, restricted the hosts to 39-2 in the six-over powerplay, Tim Bresnan catching Tom Latham off his own bowling and Willey bowling Graham Clark. But an innings that had been treading water was given impetus by Collingwood, who had scored a T20 career-best 108 not out against Worcestershire at New Road last Sunday.
There is clearly life in the old dog yet, with the 41-year-old Collingwood launching leg-spinner Adil Rashid for six over mid-wicket towards Lumley Castle, and later pulling Matthew Fisher for a maximum in the same direction.
Durham slipped to 71-3 in the 11th when Willey bowled Usman Arshad as he tried to hammer to leg, but Collingwood and Richardson raised a competitive score against an attack for whom Willey and Bresnan were the most economical.
Yorkshire should have lost a wicket to the second ball of their reply, but Arshad dropped a straightforward chance when Adam Lyth lofted James Weighell to third man. Arshad atoned in the fifth over when Lyth picked him out in the same position off Barry McCarthy, who had fellow opener Tom Kohler-Cadmore held at short third-man by Weighell off the next ball as Yorkshire slid to 36-2.
Lees hit 29 from 26, but after pulling Paul Coughlin for six over mid-wicket, he fell to the next delivery when he tried to steal a single to mid-off and was run-out by a direct hit from Collingwood.
Sarfaraz Ahmed miscued McCarthy to mid-wicket to leave Yorkshire 98-4 in the 14th, which became 115-5 in the 16th when Willey slapped a full toss from Coughlin to deep mid-wicket.
When Bresnan picked out long-on off Coughlin, 20 were wanted off the last nine balls.
Jack Leaning hit Couglin’s next two balls for six and four, but was caught at cover off the next to leave Yorkshire 148-7 and 10 wanted off the final over.
The equation boiled down to three needed off the final ball, but Azeem Rafiq was only able to scamper a bye.