GRAHAM ONIONS yesterday atoned for leaving Michael Richardson stranded on 96 by taking three more wickets to add to his five on the first day at Trent Bridge.

Durham were all out for 372 when Onions fell for nought, and a lead of 168 was looking far from impregnable as the Nottinghamshire openers cruised to 53.

Under the cloudless sky it came as a bolt from the blue when Jamie Harrison made the breakthrough, but on the ground where he took his career-best nine for 67 three years ago Onions returned to inflict further damage.

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Nottinghamshire closed on 138 for four, 30 behind, and if Durham can finish them off over the next two days they will move above them into third place.

A total of 372 is pretty good by recent standards, but Durham seemed to have missed the Trent Bridge boat when they ought to have sailed serenely on in glorious weather.

Richardson was left four short of his first century of the season as the rest of the top six all reached 30 but failed to go on, then the tail folded limply.

The most culpable batsman was Gordon Muchall, who opened up with the same flourish as in his superb 158 not out here last season.

He stroked seven high-class fours in easing to 32 off 37 balls before driving Samit Patel to deep mid-on. He stalked off angrily, knowing he had not enhanced his chances of a new contract.

At least Durham's slight worry of relegation, which had arisen from five defeats and a draw in the previous six games, has vanished, helped by Hampshire picking up only two bonus points in their drubbing at Taunton.

Marcus Trescothick, who is to emulate Paul Collingwood in playing on past his 40th birthday, succeeded where the Durham captain failed in making 153.

Collingwood would also have fancied a big hundred, but on 40 he tried at the last second to withdraw his bat and played on against the previously innocuous Brett Hutton, who went on to clean up the tail and finish with five for 77.

Resuming on 174 for two in the morning, 30 behind, Durham knew they could take all of a blissful day to build a big lead. They didn't hurry, but losing three wickets in the morning was not in the script.

Scott Borthwick made a quiet start but had just driven Luke Wood to the cover boundary when he played on for 63 to a ball which skidded on to him.

Wood bowled well, especially in comparison with the dross sent down by the other left-armer, Harry Gurney.

Richardson's only scare came on five when he edged Wood for four via second slip's right hand. Many of his 15 fours came from cuts, dabs and steers wide of gully to the generally vacant third man boundary.

With better support, he looked capable of adding many more in his best knock of the season, but the last five wickets went down for 48 runs.

Ryan Pringle took eight balls to get off the mark then hit Hutton for four, two, four and was looking set when he edged the same bowler to first slip.

Harrison, who bagged a pair in his last appearance at Scarborough, again failed to register before he prodded forward and lost his off stump.

Debut boy Barry McCarthy had the misfortune to go in just as the new ball was taken and after two scrambled singles Wood swung one through his forward push to hit middle stump.

Richardson tried to farm the strike, but Chris Rushworth looked in little trouble in making 14 until he edged Hutton to slip.

That brought in Onions with Richardson on 92 and after hooking the fifth ball of a Wood over for four he tried to hit another boundary rather than looking for a single. A dot ball resulted and Onions fell two balls later.

On a ground where the ball traditionally swings, there was little evidence of movement for Durham until Harrison shaped one in to bowl Brendon Taylor for 33. Onions then nipped one back to take out Steven Mullaney's off stump.

Low bounce may have helped in both cases, and Onions suddenly found some extra lift to take Jake Libby's edge and give Borthwick a head-high catch at second slip.

Michael Lumb, who has missed most of the season with an arm injury, obligingly spooned a catch straight to Rushworth at long leg before Riki Wessels and Patel saw out the last eight overs.

*It was announced in mid-morning that Nottinghamshire had won the Second X1 Championship final by beating Middlesex with ex-Durham man Will Gidman on 94 not out. The fact that he hasn't been able to command a first team place since his move from Gloucestershire underlines the gap between the divisions.