Clarke, Woakes give Warwickshire big chance
Warwickshire 198 (Rushworth 5-43) and 125 for 3 (Evans 52*) require a further 140 to beat Durham 314 and 148 (Harrison 53, Clarke 3-19, Woakes 3-52)
This match is so intriguingly set with a day remaining that is hard to decide who has the upper hand. The 265 needed by Warwickshire to retain an outside chance of staying in contention for the Championship looked a tall order but a composed half-century by Laurie Evans has given them an opportunity. Scoring a further 140 with seven wickets still intact looks much less daunting.
Success may depend on how long the partnership with Sam Hain survives in the morning session but Hain batted exceptionally well in the first innings and there is a depth of batting to come, with the possibility that Chris Woakes might complete a highly satisfactory comeback by scoring the winning runs.
Woakes, in his first competitive action since suffering a foot injury during the World Cup and subsequently damaging his left knee during his rehab, has already shown that he is in good order with ball in hand. Having spoken of his hunger to play a part in England's Ashes summer, he took three wickets in the space of 10 balls as Warwickshire scythed through Durham's top order. It was only the enterprise of another bowler who clearly knows what to do with a bat that kept Durham in the match at all.
Durham had earlier appeared to be well in control, claiming the last three of Warwickshire's first-innings wickets in the first 45 minutes for a lead of 116.
But then came carnage. In a muggy atmosphere with a threat of showers, they lost their own first four second innings wickets for just nine runs. Conditions were ideal for Woakes, who posed a threat from his first ball and drew first blood with the second ball of his third over, finding the edge of Mark Stoneman's bat with a delivery the first-innings century-maker was obliged to play.
In his next over he struck twice, the first ball clipping Paul Collingwood's back pad and persuading umpire Graham Lloyd to raise the finger. For the second time in the match, the Durham captain, already facing a dissent charge for his reaction to his first-innings dismissal, appeared to react with incredulity. Four balls later, Scott Borthwick, Durham's other in-form left-hander, was drawn into a tentative push and was caught behind.
Meanwhile, Rikki Clarke, impressive as the senior bowler in the first innings as Woakes eased his way back in, was giving staunch support, running in with purpose at the other end. He flattened two of Keaton Jennings' stumps and struck again when Michael Richardson, who had pulled Woakes for six as he counter-attacked vigorously, flashed hard and fell to an excellent catch by Evans at third slip. Durham went to lunch, teeteringly, on 34 for five.
The mayhem continued into the afternoon as Gordon Muchall, with a wild an injudicious swing, became Clarke's eighth wicket of the match. Surprisingly, this was new territory for the former England all-rounder, a reliable chipper-in for much of his Warwickshire career but seldom the main man. His biggest match haul previously was seven.
When a fine ball from Oliver Hannon-Dalby had John Hastings caught at slip, Durham were 55 for 7, desperately hoping they could at least finish 200 in front. In fact, they exceeded that handsomely. The ball began to lose its venom and runs began to come less hazardously and they did manage a recovery of sorts. Jamie Harrison, the left-arm seamer, completed his second first-class half-century, adding 40 in company with Ryan Pringle and 48 for the ninth wicket with Chris Rushworth.
Varun Chopra and Ian Westwood made a decent start to the chase, scoring at five an over, but then both were out. Chopra, with no end in sight to his wretched run, was strangled down the leg side, then Jonathan Webb was out without scoring for the second time in the match, his middle stump plucked out as Rushworth, another five-wicket haul under his belt from the first innings, claimed his 52nd victim of the season.
Another glut of wickets might have followed, but Warwickshire applied themselves doggedly. Evans had gone first ball in the first innings but by now the surface was offering Rushworth fewer favours. He and Ian Westwood were determined to keep mistakes to a minimum but nonetheless kept the scoreboard moving. They added 65 for the third wicket before Westwood edged a decent ball from John Hastings and raised the possibility of a win.
Woakes was pleased with his comeback. "I'm still feeling a little bit sore of an evening," he said, with reference to the aftermath of surgery to repair a torn meniscus. "But I'll take that. Pulling up in the morning is fine.
"I've never been out for a significant amount of time before so it has been frustrating. It's been one thing after another starting with the ankle at the World Cup and leading on to my knee.
"In terms of timing, it was a bad moment to pick up an injury being in the England squad for all formats. It's great to see the boys doing well but I want to be part of it.
"I've got to get myself back to my best fight my way back in. It is not going to be easy but I'm looking forward to it. It is great to see the Ashes summer start so well for and I want to be back in it."