Durham 400 for 7 dec (Di Venuto 135, Chanderpaul 93) drew with Somerset 224 (Harmison 5-84) and 181 for 2 (Langer 109*)

It was likely, though not inevitable, that this match between two strong championship contenders would end in a draw, after so much time was lost to the weather. Justin Langer provided the highlight of the final day with a masterly century that was both dynamic and sound, ensuring that his team's large first-innings deficit did not result in defeat.

The ideal scenario for Durham, beginning the day at 265 for 3, would have been to rattle up some quick runs, declare at about lunchtime and then bowl out Somerset cheaply a second time to win the match. Their first setback was the early loss of their opener, Michael Di Venuto, who has earned himself rather a reputation for being run out this season.

Once again, he tried in vain to beat an accurate throw from deep midwicket while attempting a second run by his partner, and departed after adding just four to his overnight 131. The accurate fielder, Michael Munday, at last seems to have found his raison d'etre in the Somerset side, after having his leg-spin bowling virtually ignored on the second day.

Somerset briefly looked like fighting back, despite some blatant time-wasting in the field, as Ben Harmison and Phil Mustard both fell cheaply, the latter to a superb leaping catch at extra cover by Justin Langer. Despite this their bowling did not look particularly impressive and did not fool the New Zealander, Paul Wiseman, who went for his shots from the start, including a big six into the building site beyond square leg off Ian Blackwell, whose bowling was disappointing.

Wiseman reached his fifty off 63 balls on the stroke of lunch, closely following Dale Benkenstein (96 balls), who had been one of the overnight batsmen but seemed content to bat in a supervisory category while his partners attacked.

At lunch Durham were on 377, 153 ahead, having raised their scoring rate to more than three an over. Wiseman on 52 scooped up a return catch off a leading edge to give the long-suffering Munday a wicket, and when Callum Thorp smacked a four and a six to take the total to 400, Benkenstein declared, his own score being 62. Alfie Thomas had three wickets and Charl Willoughby, less impressive today, two.

Langer was not prepared to consider any possibility of defeat. After a scratchy first innings, he looked transformed to his great days as he clattered 14 runs off a rather wayward first over from Steve Harmison. Marcus Trescothick, off the field for a while earlier in the day with a migraine, rather limply followed a ball from Harmison that moved away and edged a catch to the keeper for 6, but James Hildreth, coming in at No. 3, settled in well after a slow start. Harmison took his sweater after Langer got stuck into him again, driving him for four off-side boundaries in an over and reaching his fifty off 45 balls, with 10 fours.

Tea was taken at 111 for 1, a score that would not have been relished by the former umpire David Shepherd. After the break there was a brief presentation to a current umpire Graham Burgess, a Somerset allrounder from 1966 to 1979, who is umpiring his final match on his old home ground, being forced at the age of 65 to lay down his finger.

A draw was almost inevitable, but Shivnarine Chanderpaul provided some entertainment with his leg-spin bowling: he turned the ball far more than any bowler in the match, but without the same precision as he displays in his batting. But it was all incidental: Hildreth mishooked and departed for 44, Langer on 95 reached 1000 runs for the season, and, eventually, his third century of 2008 (101 balls, 18 fours). He finished with 109 and so ended another crucial match, ruined by the weather.

Team Mat Won LostTied Draw Aban Pts
Hampshire 15 4 4 0 7 0160
Somerset 14 3 10 10 0 159
Durham 14 5 3 0 5 1157
Nottinghamshire 14 4 20 7 1 156
Kent 14 4 4 0 6 0147
Sussex 14 2 20 10 0 141
Lancashire 14 3 2 0 8 1135
Yorkshire 14 2 50 7 0 135
Surrey 15 0 4 0 10 1119