Somerset forced to settle for second
Somerset were denied a maiden LV= County Championship Division One crown as they could only draw with Durham and Nottinghamshire picked up sufficient bonus points against Lancashire to finish top of the table.
With the teams shaking hands on a draw at the Emirates Durham ICG, Somerset were left with a nervous wait to see if they would be crowned champions.
Notts quickly decided matters at Old Trafford though, clinching a bowling bonus point that meant their inevitable draw was enough to take the pennant by virtue of more games won.
Going into the day knowing they needed to win to guarantee themselves a first title, Durham were facing the difficult prospect of needing to bowl out the hosts, who resumed on 171 for two, and chasing a target.
And, after Michael Di Venuto brought his third championship century of the season, they managed to do the first bit, dismissing Durham for 320, thanks in the main to Peter Trego’s 4-61.
That left them needing an unlikely 181 from just 17 overs and, despite sending Craig Kieswetter up the order, they fell well short, reaching 48 for three.
Despite Charl Willoughby finding considerable swing, Durham batted solidly in the early stages of the morning with an excellent Di Venuto cover drive off Ben Phillips proving a particular highlight.
He followed that up with an equally impressive stroke to bring up a 155-ball ton, including 11 fours.
The conditions continued to suit the batsmen thereafter and the Australian, along with Ben Harmison, continued to breeze along at a steady pace.
However, they lost their first wicket of the day courtesy of a brilliant catch from Kieswetter after Harmison edged Alfonso Thomas behind.
Di Venuto continued on his merry way, though, mixing good running with the odd boundary, while Blackwell showed signs of intent by guiding a four to third man.
But, with lunch looming, they both fell in quick succession, meaning Durham entered the interval on 255 for five, 115 ahead.
Somerset continued to impress after the break, with Murali Kartik having Dale Benkenstein, in particular, in all sorts of trouble.
Skipper Phil Mustard was also enjoying his fair share of luck, though, Chinese cutting one just past his stumps for four.
Benkenstein and Scott Borthwick dug in from that point on, with the former taking 71 balls to reach 10 not out as the hosts reached tea at 287 for six.
He seemed to be ready to adopt a more positive approach after the interval, neatly hitting Willoughby through cover for three.
However, Somerset soon hit back in great style as Trego bowled Borthwick, before Willoughby trapped Liam Plunkett lbw.
The game entered a brief lull thereafter, but Trego soon claimed his fourth scalp of the day as Chris Rushworth top-edged a pull, allowing Kieswetter to take the catch.
And the innings was soon over as Willoughby found Benkenstein’s edge and Trescothick took a simple chance at slip, leaving them needing an unlikely 181 runs in 17 overs.
Somerset opted to promote Kieswetter up the order in a bid to get off to a flyer.
And they enjoyed an excellent, albeit fortuitous, start to their daunting chase as Marcus Trescothick edged debutant Ruel Brathwaite between the keeper and a wide slip for four.
Durham skipper Mustard decided to open the bowling with left-arm spinner Ian Blackwell and it proved to be a good decision as the former Somerset man only conceded two runs in his first over.
Trescothick was able to give the innings some much-needed impetus in the next over, though, cutting Brathwaite for another boundary.
They could not get the sort of momentum they needed going, though, and Kieswetter soon fell for just two, bowled by Blackwell attempting a slog-sweep.
With Trescothick at the crease, Somerset still had a chance, underlined by him hitting Brathwaite for two boundaries.
The bowler soon had his revenge, though, having the former England man caught at cover by Borthwick for 21, before Blackwell accounted for Trego.
That wicket seemed to end Somerset’s endeavour as, with Nick Compton and Jos Buttler at the crease, the captains agreed to end proceedings early at 4.35pm, with five overs remaining.