Warwickshire v Durham, Specsavers Championship Div 1, Edgbaston, 3rd day May 24, 2016

Weighell and Jennings highlight Durham's resolve

David Hopps at Edgbaston

Durham 190 and 154 for 4 (Jennings 88*) need 84 more runs to beat Warwickshire 313 and 114 (Weighell 5-33)

James Weighell claimed his first five-wicket haul © Getty Images

Durham supporters steeling themselves for the possibility of another Test mismatch at Chester-le-Street after events at Headingley can at least find consolation that this Championship encounter has been made of sterner stuff. For three days, the leaders Warwickshire have failed to kill off a dogged challenge by Durham, the upshot being that they will begin the final morning 84 runs short with six wickets remaining. There is no doubt where the grittiest cricket has been on show.

When it comes to toughness of character, Keaton Jennings loves nothing better than to sandpaper a bowling attack into submission. He began the season against Lancashire with centuries in both innings - only the third Durham batsman to achieve the feat - and his unbeaten 88 showed the same unyielding qualities. His fifth-wicket stand with Paul Collingwood was worth 67 from 23 overs at the close.

Viewed through an international prism, as they are about to be, Durham, the hosts for the second Test, are in a mess. Appalling Test advance sales seemingly give them no immediate hope of reducing debts totalling £5m, especially with Ben Stokes hors de combat, but on the field, under the captaincy of Collingwood, their tenacity can be taken for granted.

Durham's tail is a long one: this match remains decidedly in the balance. But if they pull this one off, back-to-back wins (they beat the leaders Lancashire at Emirates Riverside last week) would be a powerful retort to those who imagined they might be relegation fodder. Instead it is Surrey, rich enough to lend them a few bob, whose season is turning sour.

Durham's ability to produce cricketers in the north-east also deserves to command huge respect, and it has been exemplified here at Edgbaston by James Weighell, the latest fast bowler to come off the production line - the result of a strong academy and a willingness to cast their net far and wide. Others can learn from that.

A 22-year-old from Middlesbrough, border country where Durham's raids are these days considerable more successful than Yorkshire's, Weighell has twice set career-best figures in only his fourth first-class match, following up four wickets in the first innings with 5 for 33 second time around to return 9 for 130 in the match.

He took all his wickets in the first innings from around the wicket - utilising it as an unusually persistent ploy against the right-hander - but he adjusted the balance towards a more conventional approach on the third day in conditions that gave plenty of encouragement to pace bowlers maintaining an attacking length.

With Chris Woakes on the road north to join England - Warwickshire's best bowling return for half a century safely gathered in - it was tempting to feel some sympathy for the effect that it would have on their Championship challenge until the thought dawned that Durham's pace bowling stocks are currently weakened by the absence not just of Stokes and his England colleague Mark Wood, but also Chris Rushworth, whose 83 wickets last season made him the PCA cricketer of the year

Fielding a trio of wet-behind-the-ears pace bowlers, Durham bowled themselves right back into the match by dismissing Warwickshire for 114 in their second innings, challenging the perception that their Woakes-inspired deficit of 123 on first innings was as good as terminal.

Weighell was the prime reason. Warwickshire, resuming on 15 for 2, soon lost Andrew Umeed, who had made a century on Championship debut in the first innings, but who edged an excellent lifting delivery from Weighell. Ian Bell fell to a yorker and Weighell also added to the misery of Sam Hain whose desperately thin Championship season - a season in which he might have been expected to blossom - continued when he hacked a nondescript ball onto his stumps. Tim Ambrose caught at short leg on the stroke of lunch and a miscue to midwicket by Oliver Hannon-Dalby completed his five-for.

Durham could be forgiven for identifying Keith Barker as the bowler they most feared as they set off in pursuit of 238. Barker, Warwickshire's stocky left-arm swing bowler, has been Durham's nemesis for years. There was a maiden century in 2011, the bowling figures behind two innings defeats in 2014 and another Championship hundred last season. One look at his sizeable frame sends them all a quiver.

As it was, the threat came from a different source. It was the ganglier figure of Chris Wright who spearheaded Warwickshire's challenge in a post-tea spell of 4 for 10 in 24 balls which disturbed the equanimity that had taken hold during a circumspect opening stand of 87 in 30 overs between Jennings and Mark Stoneman.

In Woakes' absence, and with no signs of turn for Jeetan Patel or Woakes' stand-in - the legspinner Josh Poysden - Wright's intervention was necessary. Scott Borthwick got the best delivery of all, which left him sharply to hit off stump, and when Michael Richardson pulled to midwicket few would have reckoned on Durham having a 50-50 chance of victory by the close.

Comments have now been closed for this article

  • Jackie on May 25, 2016, 9:26 GMT

    I just want to pay tribute to the cricketing community in County Durham. This is the reason why there is such a wealth of young keen players. When the mining, shipyards and steelworks closed down they left a lot of cricket clubs behind in the Durham villages and towns. Cricket is popular in the County in a very traditional way. The ex-pit villages have kept their teams going and there is a cricket culture among the young. The ECB if they weren't in a Home Counties bubble might see that as invaluable. Middlesbrough is divided by the Tees, North side is within the old County Durham boundaries, the other in Yorkshire. Cleveland was the ill-fated new County which everyone hates. Durham cricket runs on old County boundaries which includes Gateshead, Sunderland as well. Northumberland also has rich pickings - hence Harmison from Ashington, a former mining village. Durham is a great club - a real breath of fresh air. If you go to watch the County Championship you will find keen support.

  • Jackie on May 25, 2016, 9:14 GMT

    There does seem to be a concerted attack on Durham with recognition that they are producing the goods. Scyld Berry at the DT demanded that Tests be withdrawn from Durham because of 'poor rail links"!! He cited local trains to Chester le street. The ground is 15 mins away from Durham main line station with connections all over the country, much closer than Headingley is to Leeds main line station - about 30 mins away. There is a shuttle bus to the ground on international match days!! It's 10 mins from Durham by taxi. Local buses galore. Please pass on! Durham are a gritty club and will fight to the end. But Warks lost their bowler mid match so match plans blown apart. There is a difference. Both clubs have good Academies and are bringing players through. Surrey take note. Both clubs are in debt for the same reason. Ground expansion plans at high interest rates before the crash. They could have pulled the plug and not built new stands. ECB need to stop being rich cats and start helping.

  • steve on May 24, 2016, 19:26 GMT

    Jennings 2 centuries in a match came against Somerset . It was Borthwick who repeated the feat against Lancs.

  • rokerb4310721 on May 24, 2016, 18:48 GMT

    Every days report mentions Durham's financial plight, yet their situation is no worse than a number of counties. How about more focus on the cricket or credit to the second team coaching staff who produce these talented youngsters.

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