Coach Jon Lewis believes Durham are risking serious injury to Paul Coughlin by over-bowling him – but he will have to play against Kent today because they have no one else.
Durham have been crippled by an injury crisis, including five seam bowlers, and Lewis has had no success in the loan market.
“I made five phone calls before the Northants game but had no joy,” he said. “The England Lions game was part of the reason.”
Given Yorkshire’s glut of seamers he might have expected Martyn Moxon, coach at Durham when Lewis was captain, to help out this week. But Tim Bresnan is being rested as his wife is due to give birth and Yorkshire are also playing the Second X1 Trophy final against Middlesex tomorrow.
Sunderland-born Coughlin has a history of back trouble and the fact that Chris Rushworth, Graham Onions and Brydon Carse all have similar problems could be partly explained by the long coach journeys Durham have to endure.
They went from Hove to Swansea two weeks ago, then back home for the Northants game before leaving for Canterbury for today’s game.
Durham have suffered last-over defeats in both their last two Specsaver County Championship games and Coughlin has had the task of bowling the final over, conceding 14 runs against Glamorgan at Swansea, then failing to fend off Northants earlier this week when three were required.
Since making his championship debut in 2014, 24-year-old Coughlin has yet to complete more than half a season of first team cricket, but is showing the benefits of working with the England Performance Programme last winter.
After he completed a 10-wicket match haul on Monday, Lewis said: “In an ideal world he should be rested now.
“We can’t keep bowling him into the ground. But he’s standing up well and wants to keep playing.
“I can’t remember when we last went into a home match with only three seamers. We included Paul’s younger brother, Josh, in the squad but decided to let Paul Collingwood and Keaton Jennings share the fourth seamer’s role.”
On hearing that Kent had signed the world’s top-ranked leg-spinner in Pakistan’s Yasir Shah, Lewis added: “Hopefully they will prepare a dry pitch to suit him and we’ll only need three seamers.”
Left-arm spinner George Harding will rejoin the squad after taking four wickets in the second innings on his debut at Swansea.