Worcestershire 1 for 1 trail Durham 273 (Burnham 76, Bancroft 70, Morris 6-53) by 272 runs
As curators of the county circuit's most aesthetically appealing backdrop, Worcestershire have an onerous responsibility. Having upset enough traditionalists by allowing a monstrous (to some critics) four-storey hotel to be built in one corner of the New Road ground, the decision to erect a new electronic scoreboard next to it cannot have been taken lightly.
The one it replaces was so small as to be barely visible, particularly now that the banks of seats obscure half of it anyway. Make it too large, though, and there is danger of encroaching on The View. Happily, the chosen dimensions have avoided that, although the grey open metalwork surrounding it is not a masterstroke of urban minimalism: it just isn't finished yet.
The numbers on the scorecard showed both sides in the ascendancy at different times on a sunblessed day of the kind that shows off the cathedral at its best, set against a crisp blue backcloth, framed by vibrant spring green.
Durham rejected the chance to bowl first and won the right to bat, which did not seem too smart as openers Alex Lees and Cameron Steel were being dismissed with just 10 on the board. Lees drove ambitiously at a ball from Charlie Morris and a thick inside edge clattered into his stumps, then Steel followed one outside off stump and Riki Wessels took a sharp low catch at first slip. It was a wicket for Joe Leach, the captain, significant because he had not played competitive senior cricket for 11 months after suffering a stress fracture in the back.
Leach struck another blow in his next over as Gareth Harte was leg before and at 14 for 3 Durham were in a spot of early bother. Leach finished his opening spell with 2 for 12 from six overs.
Once the shine began to wear off the new ball, however, the story began to change. Cameron Bancroft, the Durham captain, applied himself judiciously, as too did Jack Burnham, the former England Under-19 batsman. They negotiated a steady and for the most part untroubled path to lunch at 77 for 3.
The day became a significant one for Burnham, too, as he seeks to rebuild his career after a year of enforced absence, the consequence of three failed tests for recreational drug use. There are some who advocate life bans for any form of drug abuse but 12 months is a long time for a 21-year-old for whom it must have once seemed he had the world at his feet.
He took himself off to labour on a road gang for part of his time away, reacquainting himself with a world in which money is too sparse to throw away on the empty self-gratification that tempted him before. Durham, who need talented young players more than ever, will hope it is all in the past.
When Burnham passed fifty off 109 balls it was his first since July 2017. He and Bancroft added 149 in 46 overs.
But then the balance of the day shifted again as both fell in consecutive overs towards the end of the middle session. Josh Tongue, with the second ball of a new spell, removed Bancroft, trapped in front for 70 trying to work to leg, then Morris, who was to be the bowler of the day, had Burnham caught behind for 76. When Leach then bowled Liam Trevaskis, Durham had slipped from 163 for 3 to 177 for 6.
More rebuilding followed as Ben Raine and Ned Eckersley, reprising old Leicestershire partnerships, added 60 for the seventh wicket, but then, with the new ball taken, it became a Morris dance through the tail, the right-arm seamer dismissing both in consecutive overs and taking the last four wickets in the space of five overs as Durham were out for 273.
Morris spent much of last season away from the first team remodelling a once-suspect action. His 6 for 53 followed his 7 for 45 in Worcestershire's opening win over Leicestershire, so whatever remedial work he undertook seems to have worked.
Chris Rushworth's action could hardly be better honed. As if to demonstrate that fact, as Worcestershire began their reply, the Durham stalwart struck with his second ball to remove Daryl Mitchell.