Northern giants lose winning habit
Durham 361 for 8 (Richardson 148, Stoneman 131, Rashid 3-70) and 100-4 (Jennings 54*) drew with Yorkshire 589 for 8 dec (Gale 124, Lyth 104, Williamson 97, Bairstow 95)
A month into the new season, the two sides who showed themselves to be the best in the County Championship last season have won one match between them, and that against the side currently in last place. Something to worry about? At this early stage, perhaps not, but something to ponder.
This match ultimately gave Durham a feather in the cap for character, given that they batted continuously for more than two days, even taking into account the rain that trimmed 11 overs off the time available to Yorkshire to bowl them out for a second time.
Yet their bowling and fielding in the Yorkshire innings had been well below par, allowing Andrew Gale's team to build a total of a size almost unheard of at this ground. Paul Collingwood, the Durham captain, said at the close that he would have bowled without hesitation had he had the choice, and put Yorkshire's 589 at about 300 runs above par.
For their part, Yorkshire must see the draw as an opportunity lost to score a significant win over a key rival. If, as Collingwood insisted, their first innings total was a freak, then they ought to have been capable, with their bowling resources, of dismissing Durham twice for fewer, within the seven sessions, or the best part thereof, that they gave themselves.
However, while each of their key bowlers at different times in the match bowled spells of high quality, as a collective they fell a little way short. Yorkshire were ruthless in defeating Northamptonshire in their one win so far, but they conceded more than 500 runs to Somerset in their drawn opening match at Taunton and their failure to prevent Middlesex chasing 472 to win at Lord's was a chastening experience, to say the least and Durham's 388 in the first innings here was perhaps a few too many.
Yet credit is due to Durham, who showed commendable resilience to bat through those seven sessions, having been asked to follow-on, and did find themselves in a crisis on the final afternoon, when their first four wickets fell for 42 and Yorkshire had their tails up.
With 60 overs to face in which not to lose 10 wickets, a little better than it might have been after 11 overs lost to rain, they endured a first 18.1 overs that were catastrophic, in terms of their chances of doing so.
Mark Stoneman, one of their two century-makers from the first innings, was out in the most unfortunate way, run out at the non-striker's end when Liam Plunkett deflected a Keaton Jennings drive into the stumps.
Then Scott Borthwick, a doubt for Durham's trip to Hove next week because of a finger injury that stopped him bowling here, succumbed to a ball from Jack Brooks that was the best anyone faced all match, rearing up and taking the glove as he tried to take evasive action, with Andrew Hodd taking the catch.
Kumar Sangakkara, out second ball in the first innings, was lucky not to be given out caught behind for nothing, was dropped at gully on four, just missed the fielder at point with his first boundary and got his second off an inside edge, none of which augured well. Then, with the streakiest 14 runs he may ever score to his name, he followed a wide one from Ryan Sidebottom to be caught at second slip.
Adil Rashid, who bowled superbly, dismissed Michael Richardson, the other big success from the first innings, with his first ball, at which point Yorkshire had 42 overs still to work with and a sense of gathering momentum.
But there were still some craggy rocks to shift, the craggiest of all being the captain, Collingwood, who joined Keaton Jennings, first offering sage advice to the 21-year-old at the other end and then setting about leading by example, facing 91 balls, 83 of them dots, enjoying a little luck at times, particularly against Rashid, but earning it. And, while doing this for more than two hours, guiding Jennings astutely enough through his business at the other for the young opener to finish with a highly creditable half-century.
Collingwood praised Jennings for having the character to finish the job in the face of bowling which, he said, touched on international class at times, particularly when Plunkett got up to speed and when Rashid was employed all the guile he could muster.
Equally important, though, had been the strength of will shown earlier by Jamie Harrison and Graham Onions, the overnight batsmen, whose 26-over, 45-run stand held back Yorkshire's quest for the last two first innings wicket until the day was into its second hour.