Jamie Harrison picks up the wicket of Will Jenkins (photo: Ian Horrocks)
Day Three: Durham (1st innings 487 all out) v Durham MCCU (1st innings 176-9 dec) Match Drawn.
Durham's final pre-season game ended in a draw after a rain affected contest with Durham University. Play was interrupted by the weather again on day three, as Durham reduced the visitors to 65-6, before half-centuries from Cameron Steel and Ollie Steele prevented Paul Collingwood's side from being able to force a result.
After most of the home batsmen had time at the crease on Tuesday, the bowlers were able to stretch their legs and Jamie Harrison continued his impressive recent form with three wickets. Usman Arshad, Gareth Breese, Chris Rushworth and Keaton Jennings also chipped in, whilst Graham Onions produced typically economical figures on his return from a foot problem.
The team will now begin their final preparations for the trip to Northamptonshire's Wantage Road this weekend. The defence of the LV=County Championship title begins with a game against the newly promoted side, and Head Coach Jon Lewis has hinted that the champions could field a similar side to the one that played against the University.
With the opening bowling partnership of Onions and Rushworth working in tandem once again, the student's openers found runs hard to come by and Rushworth eventually trapped Hugo Darby to get the breakthrough. Harrison then replaced Onions from the Finchale End and the 23 year old found the edge of Chaitanya Bishnoi's bat, to give Phil Mustard a regulation catch. Four balls later Harrison struck again, as Will Jenkins left a straight delivery that struck him flush on the pad.
Harrison was enjoying some good rhythm and Anish Paraam edged a drive through to Mustard, giving the Durham seamer his third victim. The students had stuttered to 50, but then lost two more wickets in quick succession as Arshad sent Chris Purshouse's leg stump out of the ground and Keaton Jennings bowled Freddie Van Den Bergh.
After the players took lunch, they were swiftly forced off due to a rain shower so when they returned to the field, the scene was overcast. Despite the favourable bowling conditions, the pairing of Steel and Steele lived up to their names as they showed strength to thwart the Durham attack. Opener Cameron Steel had batted with particular care until he edged a Breese delivery through to Mustard for 68.
Durham took two more wickets after the tea interval and Ollie Steele then reached his half-century before the students declared on 176-9. The two captains shook hands on a draw, with the washout on day one denying any realistic chance of a positive result.
The game with Northamptonshire begins on Sunday at Wantage Road. A full match preview will be on durhamccc.co.uk this Friday.