Graham Clark enjoying Durham's tour of grounds during Royal London Cup
Graham Clark has been relishing Durham’s tour of out-grounds in their Royal London Cup campaign ahead of this week's latest contest on the road at South Northumberland against Lancashire.
Durham recorded victories against Kent at Beckenham and Middlesex at Radlett before suffering an agonising final-over defeat at the hands of Gloucestershire at Scarborough last week to fall to their first defeat of their 50-over competition.
Clark, who has enjoyed an excellent start to the Royal London Cup matches, feels that he and his team-mates have a stronger connection to the crowd when playing at out-grounds compared to the usual county venues.
It is providing an energy the opener hopes can fire Durham back to winning ways in their clash against Lancashire in Gosforth, and revenge is firmly on the mind for the North-East outfit having fallen to a narrow defeat in their last encounter at ‘South North’.
Clark said: “It’s a nice experience playing at out-grounds because you’re playing at new venues. It has a friendly and personal atmosphere because you feel more connected to the crowd. It’s a completely different environment.
“You do get used to turning up at the county grounds and seeing the same faces and going through the same routine. It has been refreshing to change that up and I’m enjoying it. South Northumberland is another fantastic out-ground, and it usually produces a really good pitch. It’s quite a small ground so it feels more personal. You can engage a bit more with the crowd and the atmosphere always feels a bit different.
“Every point is vital for us now in the competition. If you miss out on a win another team will be closing in fast on you. Lancashire have such a strong team even with a few players missing at The Hundred. We know it’s going to be a tough match, but if we perform at our best there’s no reason why we cannot turn them over. We played Lancashire there two years ago, it was a close game and they just got over the line. We want to put it right this time around, but it will not be easy.”
Clark has been at the forefront of Durham’s two victories from their first four games in the Royal London Cup. The 28-year-old has scored an impressive 346 runs in his three innings, including a career-best score of 141 against Kent at Beckenham. He followed that up with 65 against Middlesex before notching another brilliant century in the defeat to Gloucestershire.
After failing to make a score above fifty in the Vitality Blast, Clark feels that he is finally cashing in on his good form and is determined to carry it through for the rest of the competition.
“I’m delighted with my own performances,” he added. “As a batsman you’re quite greedy, you always want a few more runs. I felt like I left a few runs out there and that I could have converted one of those into a huge score. In the same breath I would have traded one of those centuries in for a win against Gloucestershire, as having points on the board is more important. But I’m pleased with how I’m batting and am determined to keep it going to put up match-winning contributions.
“I was disappointed with my performances in the Blast. I felt I was batting well throughout the tournament, but I couldn’t get that big score which was so frustrating. I felt as though I got the team off to pretty good starts, but I was infuriated with myself for not kicking on. Fortunately, I’ve been able to take that form into the Royal London Cup. Now I can bat within myself a little bit and take my time over a long period, which has eased the pressure on me. It’s shown that I’ve converted those starts.”