Durham title hopes dented
Durham’s best efforts to stay in with a chance of a maiden title were today undermined by Sussex resistance at Riverside - and Nottinghamshire at The Brit Oval.
Durham jockeyed for position to realise the only realistic outcome - a draw - by stumps on day three of a rain-shortened LV Division One match, played on an unusually flat Chester-le-Street surface.
But after opener Chris Nash had made 96, Sussex’s England wicketkeeper-batsman Matt Prior (58) again made these opponents work hard - just as he had in the corresponding fixture eventually won by Durham at Hove in June.
The result was a total of 267 for six in reply to 380 all out, making a stalemate still more probable than ever by the time bad light ruled out the last eight overs.
Durham nonetheless ought to bank a useful haul of draw points tomorrow yet will still be at least 10 adrift of new leaders Nottinghamshire at the start of next week’s final round.
Sussex took the honours and the points on a bright morning, as Durham fluffed their chance of a full batting complement by losing their last six wickets for 55 runs.
Fifth-wicket pair Shivnarine Chanderpaul (138) and Gareth Breese (63) had put on 182 together yesterday - but could make only eight more between them when they resumed.
Mohammad Sami (5-95) and Jason Lewry (4-82) - taking his 600th wicket for his county - did the damage.
Breese shuffled across his stumps at Sami to go lbw without addition to his overnight score, in the first over.
Chanderpaul then missed a loose push-drive towards mid-on and lost his off-stump to some stock Lewry swing - and it proved beyond the tail to muster the extra runs which had seemed a formality last night.
Sussex negotiated the swinging new ball in an uneventful 41 for none at lunch but shot themselves in the foot soon afterwards when Mike Yardy was run out by a direct hit from Will Smith, attempting a sharp single to cover.
Luke Wright nicked a good ball behind off Steve Harmison to go for a third-ball duck. However Nash and the reliable Murray Goodwin were untroubled in a 93-run stand until the compact opener fell just short of what would have been his second first-class hundred.
It was a disappointing end to a sensibly compiled 133-ball innings when Nash tried to bring up three figures in the grand manner - up the wicket at off-spinner Paul Wiseman, failing to get to the pitch and bowled by a modicum of turn.
Goodwin continued to take no unnecessary risks until, soon after tea, he too was up the wicket to Wiseman and fell to a bizarre stumping by Phil Mustard - the wicketkeeper somehow dislodging the bails via his shoulder.
Harmison targeted key man Prior with a fierce spell, finding some life at last in a docile pitch and more than once discomforting the batsman with short balls.
But Prior appeared to have come through the examination by the time deteriorating light prescribed spin at both ends - and he had plenty of shots in his armoury to take advantage.
When he fell trying to hit a 10th boundary, caught behind driving at the returning Harmison, his 60-run stand with Chris Adams had already put Sussex within sight of pushing for parity.