Worcestershire 288 and 65 for 2 v Durham 264 and 388
Worcestershire's escape from relegation was confirmed today at the same time as their hosts, Durham, were denied the County Championship title.
The news came when Hampshire were making a belated attempt to achieve maximum batting points at the Rose Bowl but succeeded only in throwing away their ninth wicket through a run-out to give Warwickshire their third bowling point, ensuring Durham can not overtake them.
Durham, though, they will be confident of finishing with their eighth win tomorrow. Worcestershire closed the third day on 65 for 2, still needing 300 behind, Graham Onions taking the two wickets after his wayward start had allowed the visitors to race to 50 in the seventh over.
Skipper Daryl Mitchell had made 35 off only 24 balls when Onions skidded one through to bowl him and he then had first innings century-maker Vikram Solanki caught behind for a duck. Dale Benkenstein's 13th championship 50 of the season was among four half-centuries in Durham's second innings total of 388, Mark Stoneman top scoring with 75.
Alan Richardson had the same figures as in the first innings, three for 46, to finish with 73 wickets for the season, while Gareth Andrew reached 50 when he pinned Benkenstein lbw for 63. Having opened up with six maidens on the second evening, Richardson again commanded great respect in the morning and had conceded only six runs off his first 12 overs.
Runs flowed off Kemar Roach, however, and Will Smith and Michael Di Venuto took their stand to 82 before Andrew nipped one back to have Smith lbw for 37. It left the batsman 22 short of 1,000 for the season.
Di Venuto departed for 55 when he bottom-edged an attempted pull off Richard Jones into his stumps. Paul Collingwood got off the mark with a six over midwicket off Moeen Ali, but after making 24 a miscued pull off Roach saw him lob a catch to square leg.
Stoneman's attractive innings ended when he thrust his pad forward down the line of leg stump and was adjudged lbw to Ali. That was the only wicket to fall in the afternoon as Ian Blackwell joined Benkenstein in passing 50. They put on 96 before departing in successive overs from Andrew.
Extra bounce accounted for Blackwell, who lobbed a catch to gully, then the same bowler pierced Scott Borthwick's defence with a swinging yorker. Richardson did the rest as the last six wickets went down for 50 runs, 27 of which were thrashed by Mitch Claydon.