Durham’s hopes of catching leaders Yorkshire was dealt a crucial blow as they lost a second successive Championship match to Warwickshire on a dramatic final day at Chester-le-Street.
Resuming on 125-3, Sam Hain and Laurie Evans fell inside the first hour, with the visitors still needing 107 for victory.
Numbers eight and nine have been important to us ... but they’re probably repairing a little bit of damage too often.
Graham Onions trapped Clarke lbw on the first ball after lunch to give the hosts some hope, but Jeetan Patel and Tom Milnes knocked off the remaining runs despite a couple of close calls.
Durham were left to rue their second innings batting collapse which saw them reduced to 55-7 and rely on some resilient lower order batting to set a total of 265, despite taking a first innings lead of 116.
Durham head coach Jon Lewis said: “It wasn’t perfect, it wasn’t ideal – and there are always things you could have done. But they were excellent bowling conditions which were exploited by two class performers.”
“Numbers eight and nine have been important to us. In an ideal world it’s a strength, but they’re probably repairing a little bit of damage too often.”
After winning the toss and electing to bat, Mark Stoneman and Scott Borthwick put on a County record second wicket partnership against Warwickshire and Stoneman scored his second successive Championship hundred.
Borthwick and Ryan Pringle both got their 50s and five batting points looked on the cards for the Riversiders.
A combination of loose shots and tight bowling meant that they were bowled out before the end of the day for a disappointing 314.
The hosts still managed to take a crucial first innings lead thanks to Division One’s leading wicket-taker Chris Rushworth.
The Sunderland seamer took his fifth five-fer of the season to dismiss the visitors for just 198 inside the first hour on day three.
But, Durham’s top order failed to capitalise on that lead as they were reduced to 9-4 thanks to a splendid spell of new ball bowling by Chris Woakes and Rikki Clarke.
Paul Collingwood, who was given out lbw in dubious circumstances in both innings, was handed three penalty points for his dissent to umpire David Millns following his first innings lbw.
While there were a few questionable calls throughout the game, Lewis said he had no complaints and said England are fortunate to have first-class umpires of “high standard”.
Jamie Harrison’s second first-class 50 lifted the total to 148, but a target of 265 was well short of that they would liked.
Despite the best efforts of Onions and Rushworth, the visitors knocked off the runs with relative ease.
The result leaves Durham in third place, 25 points behind Yorkshire, who have a game in hand, but Lewis wasn’t ready to give up on his side’s title chances just yet.
He said: “We still have to play Yorkshire at Scarborough, which was a crucial game in 2013, when we won the Championship.”