For a second day in this match, the players made a mockery of Paul Collingwood yesterday.
On the first, Yorkshire’s Adam Lyth and Ales Lees put on 270 after being put in to bat by Durham’s captain.
Yesterday his own side showed him up. Collingwood would have been absolutely delighted.
“It’s going to take a magnificent effort to get away with this tomorrow,” was his gloomy verdict on Wednesday night.
“It was one of the best rearguard performances I’ve seen,” coach Jon Lewis was saying 24 hours later.
Listening to Collingwood, it sounded an absolute terror track.
Jack Birkenshaw was chatting to the groundsman before play began. The ex-Leicestershire spinner mentors Adil Rashid and Scott Borthwick, while another of his jobs is as a pitch inspector. Yorkshire quickly clarified he was here in the former capacity.
It was a suitable fourth-day pitch, giving the advantage to the bowlers with turn and occasional surprising bounce. Therefore, resuming nine wickets down against a side pushing hard for their title, Durham did very well to bat out their seventh draw of2014. Mark Stoneman’s, Michael Richardson’s and Phil Mustard’s backs-to-the-wall innings were impressive.
Stoneman is in terrific form but his skill is setting games up with dashing scores, not grinding out draws.
His 86 came from 165 deliveries. Stoneman’s slowest century of the last three seasons was reached in only one ball more.
So while his language as he stomped back to the dressing room having been given lbw was inexcusable, there was an unhealthy dollop of frustration mixed into the dissent.
Richardson is a much more natural grafter, but went into the game having only got past 20 once since his last Championship century, in mid-May.
But Yorkshire bring the best out of him. He made his debut at Headingley, as a wicketkeeper, with a half-century in each innings. His maiden hundred came at Scarborough, his career-best when the Tykes visited Chester-le-Street in May.
Having ground out 23 from 75 deliveries in the first innings, he fell five short of a third consecutive century against Yorkshire, whom he now averages 85 against.
Mustard is neither a natural grafter nor in form, so his two-hour unbeaten 57 as the game reached its squeaky-bum conclusion was arguably the pick.
Off the mark with a driven four, then sweeping a boundary from the next delivery, you thought he may have decided to hell with it. But it became clear he was only going after the balls there to be hit.
At times Mustard’s 2014 form has been discomforting. Those that know him want him to succeed because he is such a nice bloke, fans root for him because he is good to watch, but team-mates are always in his corner because of his character. Even when Paul Coughlin was bowled two deliveries after Jonny Bairstow dropped him with Durham only 93 ahead and 24.1 overs to play, Mustard did not panic. He was confident enough in Mark Wood to let the No.10 face more balls – 51 – than he did in their partnership.
Andrew Gale – who contradicted the Durham party line that he would have bowled first had he won the toss – rued Yorkshire’s half-chances in a sloppy fielding display.
Tim Bresnan, close in at cover, dropped Richardson on 27. He had 36 when Bairstow could only get a glove on a glance down legside, and was diving for his ground, helmet in hand, having got halfway down the pitch when gully collected Collingwood’s cut. The throw missed.
Mustard could have been stumped early, though it would have been some effort. Likewise when Rashid downed a John Hastings drive hammered at him.
Fortune favoured the brave.
The sides are in action again today, at Chester-le-Street in a Twenty20 match. Victory will see the hosts replace Yorkshire in fourth in the group with three to play. The top four qualify for the knockout stages.