Thrill of Chase leaves Notts trailling
Durham 253 (Richardson 73, Stoneman 55) and 309 (Collingwood 100, Keedy 4-86) beat Nottinghamshire 188 (Hastings 4-64) and 320 (Wessels 90, Lumb 58, Chase 5-64) by 54 runs
At least, for Nottinghamshire, what is required of them now is absolutely clear. Unable to beat the odds and pull off a record-breaking run chase against Durham, they know they have to beat Yorkshire when the sides meet at Trent Bridge next week or else the Championship pennant will by flying at Headingley next year, regardless of what happens thereafter.
On a ground where last day runs have never come easily, Nottinghamshire achieved a fourth-innings score that has only twice been bettered here, although that will be of no consolation at all. They needed 375 to keep Yorkshire within comfortable reach, which was always going to be a tall order, even if Riki Wessels, on whom they hopes rested most heavily with four wickets down and still 178 more to get overnight, turned his 77 not out into 150 or more.
In the event, he had made 90 when he pulled a ball from the Irish debutant Peter Chase, striking it nicely enough but managing to send in straight into the hands of Gordon Muchall at deep square-leg. Wessels threw back his head in disgust as he might. Even in the words of the bowler, it was a delivery that deserved the treatment - "a bit of a long hop, really", he said.
But then this was a day when the 20-year-old from Dublin was possessed of the golden arm, drafted into an injury-ravaged Durham bowling attack only a couple of weeks after being registered to play and taking 5 for 64 on debut. His nerves calmed to a degree after the superb catch by Calum MacLeod in the gully that gave him his first success on Tuesday evening, he bowled as he had been instructed - "they told me just to run in and bowl as fast as I could" - and the wickets kept on coming.
Paul Coughlin, another of limited experience required to bolster attack from which Graham Onions, Mark Wood, Jamie Harrison and Usman Arshad are all ruled out, played an important part too, claiming the second most crucial wicket when he had James Franklin lbw, but it was Chase's day.
As Chris Read craved someone to stay with him and keep the improbable target at least possible, Chase dismissed Ajmal Shahzad, caught behind off an inside edge, and Luke Fletcher, rooted in front of his stumps, with consecutive balls.
Jake Ball, the rookie in the Nottinghamshire camp, stuck with his captain manfully for 36 minutes, scoring four boundaries in his 20, but when a short ball from Chase climbed on him he could only deflect it to Muchall at third slip off the shoulder of the bat.
Effectively, it was all over, although the next 40 minutes produced a little bit of drama. The fall of the ninth wicket meant that lunch would not be taken until the game was finished, or else until 1.30pm arrived.
In that time, Gary Keedy offered a caught and bowled chance that John Hastings put down and then a catch to first slip off Chase that Collingwood, of all people, allowed into his hands and out again.
Read stroked a couple of boundaries off Chase to bring the target down to 56 - a fair effort given that it had been 155 still when Wessels departed and he came in - but with only three balls to go until lunch would have had to be taken, allowing Read and Keedy to regroup while Durham became twitchier than ever, Hastings came up with the ball of the game, a perfect yorker in middle stump, and the game was finished.
Mick Newell, understandably subdued as he awaited confirmation of Yorkshire's win at Old Trafford, admitted afterwards that the odds are now stacked against his side winning the title.
"It is a heck of a lead going into two rounds of cricket," he said. "We know we are going to have to win against Yorkshire, whatever position we are playing for and it is going to be a very difficult game. They are a strong side anyway and they will have Root and Ballance back as well."
Their presence will only place more pressure on Nottinghamshire's frontline batsmen to deliver, something they failed to do in this match, as a collective.
"In both innings we were three down very quickly and our key batters have not made much of a contribution and their bowlers generally bowled better than ours," Newell said. "In the end you get what you deserve.
"I genuinely thought we had a serious chance while Riki was still out there," Newell said. "He has got that ability to take games away from people and with him 70 not out I felt he was a person that could turn it into 150, and that was what was going to be needed to win the game.
"He was out to a loose shot off a nothing ball in the end, although you can't really have a go at a bloke who's battled away and got 90 for you."
Newell said that Andre Adams, who missed this match with a knee injury, could bit fit to face Yorkshire, the New Zealander's decision to play for Hampshire next season not something that will affect Nottinghamshire's plans for him in what remains of his time at Trent Bridge.
"We need to look at Andre and try to get him ready and to see if it is a risk worth taking," Newell said. "We will be desperate to get him on the field next week because if we are going to win the title we have to have Andre in the team."
Jon Lewis, the Durham coach, admitted the result was "huge" for the 2013 champions after their defeat at Old Trafford left them in the bottom two places.
"Losing to Lancashire was a kick in the guts for us but to play well here and beat a side pushing for the title is a big lift," he said. "The next two games are important for us now. We don't want to think in terms of avoiding finishing in the bottom two but of seeing how high up we can get and finishing in the respectable position we feel we should be in."