Durham's bowlers keep digging deep
Durham 377 (Borthwick 176, Stokes 85, Collingwood 59, Murtagh 5-106) and 28 for 1 lead Middlesex 276 (Malan 97, Roland-Jones 49) by 129 runs
Durham used to produce upwards of eight million tons of coal a year before their last deep pit closed in 1993. A year earlier, the county cricket club gained first-class status and ever since Durham has become better known for its production of seam bowlers. Deeper reserves have been reached for this season with injuries rife but the makeshift attack has proven it can steer Durham away from relegation.
At Lord's they are chasing a second consecutive victory that would surely protect their Division One status for next year. They also play relegated Northamptonshire next week. Led by Chris Rushworth, who removed both openers and Paul Stirling, Durham claimed a 101-run first-innings lead. It would have been even more of a gulf without a stand of 74 for the ninth wicket.
Like Warwickshire, Durham have managed to reach the final of the Royal London Cup despite a host of injuries. But losing bowlers Mark Wood, Usman Arshad, Jamie Harrison and Graham Onions for long periods of the season has had a deeper effect on their Championship campaign - those four have managed only 19 four-day matches between them this year having collectively taken 127 wickets in Durham's title victory in 2013.
Last week they turned to an Irish debutant for inspiration - Peter Chase's second innings five-for delivering a superb victory over Nottinghamshire. He took two more here as Durham produced a fine display in the field, bowling a touch fuller than Middlesex and being well rewarded.
Durham took maximum bowling points but failed to progress their overnight 348 for 7 to a fifth batting point. Three wickets fell in little more than half an hour, two catches via top edges to solid takes at long leg; one of them Scott Borthwick, who only added seven to his overnight total. The sharp morning work from Middlesex earned them a full haul of bowling points, ensuring they lost no ground to Lancashire.
Rushworth is Durham's leading wicket-taker this season. His full length rendered him liable to be regularly driven - his 18 overs cost 86 - but he landed three in just the right place. Two of those took out Chris Rogers and Sam Robson. Rogers lasted just five balls of the innings before nicking a delivery that held its line up the slope. Robson had one that nipped down it into his off stump. Robson's run without a half-century is now eight innings.
Rushworth changed ends to have Stirling lbw after tea. It was the fifth wicket in a collapse of 5 for 36 that left the hosts struggling for even two batting points on an amicable surface for batsman. Toby Roland-Jones' 49 from No. 9 ensured 250 was at least passed.
Dawid Malan's wicket brought about the slide but until he fell, Middlesex's progress for the fourth wicket was as smooth as Durham had found it the previous afternoon.
Malan liked to drive. He played plenty with his languid leftie style. He twice took Rushworth through the covers in the morning session before another attempt produced a flashing edge wide of the slips. But largely Malan's driving was safe. He went to fifty 20 minutes after lunch by angling Chase backward of deep point to the short Mound Stand boundary.
Another drive from Malan off Ben Stokes up towards the grandstand saw him pass 1000 Championship runs for the season. But he has a habit of getting out in the 90s - three times in the Championship this season - and attempting to flash Stokes away through the covers again, got a thin edge through to Phil Mustard. His 97 included 84 in boundaries.
The wicket came shortly after Paul Collingwood had bowled five consecutive maidens as an older ball and a ringed field proved impossible to score against. Cheers greeted Collingwood's 35th delivery when Neil Dexter drove him for four. Presumably distraught at his run ending, Collingwood took himself off.
But he was forced to bring himself back as Roland-Jones drove merrily for seven fours in a ninth-wicket half-century stand at more than five-an-over. Collingwood denied Roland-Jones his fifty with one that slid up the slope for an lbw.
Building on their lead, Keaton Jennings avoided a king pair when he was dropped first ball in the slips by Ollie Rayner but could still not get off the mark when his off stump was knocked out by Tim Murtagh three deliveries later.