DURHAM coach Jon Lewis accepted that they are in a realistic position in the table after yesterday's 71-run home defeat by Middlesex.

All six defeats have come against three teams above them and Lewis said: “Perhaps we can't argue with that. But we still have the ambition to improve and finish the season strongly.

“We are no weaker than at the start of the 2013 season, when we did something special by winning the title.

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“We have two men in the top seven run-scorers in the country and three bowlers high up the wicket-taking list, so perhaps what's going on around them isn't quite up to scratch.”

When they resumed on 134 for five yesterday, needing a further 174, Durham made a good start through some excellent strokeplay by Scott Borthwick and Ryan Pringle.

They added 56 runs in 55 minutes and with 118 needed Durham had the scent of their seventh win. But 50 minutes later it was all over with James Harris taking four of the wickets to follow his nine for 34 against Durham at Lord's.

A yorker took out Pringle's off stump after the all-rounder had hit three fours in a Tim Murtagh over in reaching 36.

While Toby Roland-Jones kept it tight, there were also 13 runs off Harris's first over before he struck with the first ball of his second.

Borthwick, on 68 overnight, reached 1,000 championship runs on 83 but fell for 95 when he drove at a gentle swinger from Neil Dexter and edged to John Simpson.

The wicketkeeper then held a leg-side catch when John Hastings gloved a short ball from Harris to depart for eight.

Chris Rushworth fended to gully, leaving debut boy James Weighell to play a few shots after taking 17 balls to get off the mark.

He reached 24 before skying Harris to Paul Stirling at deep backward square and Durham were all out for 236.

“Our two batsmen played well for the first hour against some good bowling,” said Lewis. “But it was a long way to go and although they put on a good partnership we needed a great one.”

Asked if two dropped catches had cost his side the game, he said: “If you have just taken a wicket and then you drop a catch you miss the chance to build pressure. Overall this season we have missed too many chances. When we won the title in 2013 we missed a lot fewer.”