The cricket statistics will reveal that Durham seam bowler Chris Rushworth claimed 15 wickets for his team in their victory against Northants this week, and he achieved this feat during a three and a half hour spell of 20 overs. Full credit is due to the locally born cricketer as the opposition batsmen were unable to cope with his accuracy but questions must also be asked about the attitude of the Northants team during an English County Championship season in which they have failed to win a single match.
During this week’s encounter at Durham, the home team batted first and accumulated 392 runs after being 110-4 at one stage. It was apparent that the wicket was in reasonable shape for run scoring but few people could have contemplated Northants amassing the paltry totals of 83 and 90 in reply on a day when 22 wickets were taken. Rushworth collected 9 of those wickets in the first Northants innings.
The scorecard typified the season for Northants in which they have claimed just three draws and suffered 12 defeats in a forgettable County Championship Division One campaign after securing promotion last year. Furthermore, the county has posted only one innings in excess of 400 runs this summer and they have the worst record of batting and bowling bonus points in the division.
Head Coach David Ripley has bemoaned a catalogue of misfortunes during the previous few months including a few crucial injuries and the failure to attract an overseas player to the squad but he could offer no excuses for an embarrassing performance in less than two days play at Durham.
Northants are already relegated and fellow promoted team Lancashire may join them in Division Two next season but supporters have been quick to condemn the attitude of the current crop of Northants cricketers and have even suggested that they just wanted to finish the match as quickly as possible to avoid another overnight stay.
It is also rather interesting to note that Northants have never won the County Championship despite some success in limited over cricket. Yet in contrast, this week’s opponents Durham were not granted first class status until 1991 and after a trouble early few seasons, they have since won the County Championship on three occasions during the 21st century.
Such statistics question the recent historical ambition of Northants and whether they will ever be able to capture the likes of Curtly Ambrose, Mushtaq Mohammad and Mike Hussey on long term contacts especially with their younger and more competent players being lured to other counties.
For now, with only 70 points earned this season, Northants must beat Sussex in their final match to overhaul the current lowest points total in a top flight season since the formation of two divisions in 2000. Glamorgan hold that undistinguished record when accumulating only 88.50 points in 2005.
It is difficult to imagine Northants eclipsing that total after their performance this week but while their players are left to ponder their present predicament, Chris Rushworth can be justified in basking in the glory of international fame for his 15 wicket haul against the county
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