Durham so close to County Championship crown

EARLY STRIKE ... Chris Rushworth.
EARLY STRIKE ... Chris Rushworth.

DURHAM are County Champions elect after day two of their four-day clash at home to Nottinghamshire..

The Championship trophy is literally within reach, having arrived at the Emirates ICG during play yesterday afternoon.

And having battled manfully, Durham will certainly deserve their title when it is finally secured.

Day two didn’t replicate the fireworks of the opening day’s play, but there was still plenty to entertain the crowd.

And the home support will be delighted that their side are all but certain of bringing home the title, which they last won in 2009.

They must come back again tomorrow for a day three, which is expected to be hit by rain.

But with such a small score required for the win that will see them crowned 2013 champions, Durham must be happy to play the waiting game.

While wickets tumbled on day one of their clash at home to Nottinghamshire, things got off to a far more steady start here today.

Having resumed on 207-8, Paul Collingwood led his side admirably.

Collingwood, who shared a 121 partnership with Phil Mustard (77) yesterday to steady the Durham ship, again provided an anchoring role for the hosts.

Resuming on 53 not out he picked his deliveries carefully to make 88 not out, and far more importantly guide Durham to a second batting bonus point.

Jamie Harrison (8) and Chris Rushworth (6) stuck with their skipper long enough to get over the 250-run mark.

Durham were eventually all out for 256, and now know that victory in this game will mean the league title is on it’s way to Chester-le-Street.

After the bowling fireworks of day one, the bowlers appeared to have their work cut out for them early on today.

Wicket inspector Jack Birkenshaw insisted he was more than happy with the Durham wicket, and given how it flattened out today it was difficult to see any other outcome.

But there was still enough for an early breakthrough by the hosts - Chris Rushworth striking after 7.2 overs as Michael Richardson caught Riki Wessels for 11.

Nottinghamshire offered little in the way of chances after that, although Phil Mustard appeared to put down an edge from Steven Mullaney off the bowling of Graham Onions.

At lunch Nottinghamshire were 41-1 already more than half their paltry first-innings total of 78.

But Durham continued to probe away and were eventually rewarded for their efforts.

Having passed their first-innings total with just one wicket down, the visitors lost Michael Lumb for 28 as he was trapped lbw by Graham Onions.

James Taylor and Steven Mullaney looked to be rebuild again and progressed from 79-2 to 112-3, the former being cleaned bowled by Rushworth, who looked to get one to swing back into the batsman.

Mullaney (72) was next to depart the crease as Onions claimed another lbw victim.

David Hussey put up some resistance, but found little in the way of support.

Onions finished with 3-50, Rushworth 2-64, Ben Stokes 3-55 and Jamie Harrison and Scott Borthwick both claimed one wicket each.

Hussey was last man to go for 57 bowled by Stokes as the visitors were all out for 246.

That meant Durham needed just 69 for the win, and having faced just one over before the close they had reduced to 62.