ANY threat of Durham mounting a belated charge in defence of their title receded with the rain at Headingley today.
It left them with no chance of beating Yorkshire and back in third from bottom position following Sussex’s thrashing of hapless Northamptonshire.
Durham reached 50 for one in reply to 426, a total which would have delighted Yorkshire after being put in, although they would have expected more after the opening stand of 270.
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Durham could not have envisaged picking up all three bowling points during the partnership between Adam Lyth and Alex Lees Thanks to Mark Wood improving his figures from none for 70 to five for 87, they achieved it with relative comfort and at the start of their innings there was an outside chance that they could build a big enough first innings lead to put their hosts under pressure.
That possibility has now vanished, although Yorkshire will still entertain hopes that there is enough play over the next two days for them to force an innings win and return to the top of the table.
The major point of interest this morning became their pursuit of maximum batting points, which they achieved with one ball to spare before the 110-over cut-off.
They were 380 for nine when the hirsute pair of Ryan Sidebottom and Jack Brooks came together and put on 46, the joint second highest partnership of the innings.
Resuming on 367 for seven, Yorkshire lost Tim Bresnan to the ninth ball of the day when he edged a drive at John Hastings to give Scott Borthwick his third catch at second slip.
Five overs later Wood completed his five-wicket haul when Steve Patterson gloved a brute of a ball to Phil Mustard, who took the catch at head height.
Brooks was quickly underway, clipping Wood to the mid-wicket boundary and the pair quickly began to frustrate Durham.
With three runs needed from two overs for the fifth batting point Chris Rushworth was brought on and conceded only one. Then Brooks played out four dot balls from Borthwick before sweeping the fifth for four to the delight of the fans.
The ex-Northants man was left on 27 when Sidebottom fell for 25, lifting Borthwick to Paul Coughlin at deep mid-wicket.
Under gathering cloud following a sunny start, Durham had 34 minutes to bat before lunch and reached 20 without loss.
Rain restricted the afternoon’s play to 11.4 overs, during which Mark Stoneman departed for 21.
Bresnan did not initially impress but he suddenly found some extra bounce and a little away movement to have the left-hander caught behind. He also found the edge of Borthwick’s bat, but the ball didn’t quite carry to Adam Lyth at second slip.
The first stoppage, at 2.20, was for light drizzle and kept the players off for 35 minutes. But the resumption lasted only five balls before heavier rain arrived with Keaton Jennings on 25 and Borthwick on two.