Short boundaries aid Durham’s long shot as bonus points reach boiling point


The race for a top-two berth takes a statistical turn as Notts bat first at the Riverside

Nottinghamshire 312 for 9 (Patterson-White 66*, Slater 60, Clarke 48, Raine 3-54, Rushworth 3-68) vs Durham

Durham unveiled what were thought to be the shortest boundaries ever seen for a Championship match at Emirates Riverside, in a desperate gambit to gain as many batting bonus points as possible to maximise their chances of a top-two finish in the first phase of the competition. Even the less observant spectators, who wouldn’t notice if there were two balls on the field, looked askance and wondered what was going on. There is no cricket structure ever invented that does not ultimately surrender to the Stattos. No wonder people are watching the football.

Despite boasting one of the biggest playing surfaces in the country, the boundary rope was brought in to reduce the playing dimensions to 60 metres on both sides. As skulduggery goes, Durham’s gambit was both legal and logical, but it did strengthen the case for all those who would prefer the bonus points system to be scrapped.

Durham, third going into the final round of matches, were 15 points behind the leaders, Nottinghamshire, and simply needed to beat them and match them for bonus points to qualify for Division One. At the end of an even, hard-fought but slightly colourless first day, Notts were 312 for 9, Liam Patterson-White is unbeaten on 66 and seven short of a career-best and the match feels pretty even. So far, so simple.

The artifice concerned the relative position of the second-placed club, Warwickshire, who took a nine-point advantage into their final match at Worcestershire. In this regard, it gets more complicated. Trigger warning: the next paragraph contains arithmetical discussion and may require concentration.

With a win worth 16 points, and a draw worth eight, if Durham gain more bonus points than Warwickshire they can overhaul that nine point-deficit. In other words, even if they only draw against Notts, but haul in more bonus points, they can still potentially finish in the top two if Warwickshire lose. (That appears to be unlikely but you never know).

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