By not quite doing enough with the bat, Durham set up a tight contest between themselves and Somerset yesterday afternoon.
By doing nowhere near enough with the ball, they turned it into a fight between the hosts and the weather today.
Durham set Somerset 248 to win when both coaches saw 300 as a more realistic minimum target.
But a dreadful final session means the hosts have reduced that to 136. Their biggest worry is the wet weather the forecasters are predicting.
The way Marcus Trescothick and Johann Myburgh reached 112-0 in just 23 overs put Durham’s efforts into an unflattering light.
It was obvious Somerset did not want to leave themselves too much to do today. The worry is that Durham were so helpless to stop them.
Trescothick came out to bat on a king pair in the second innings. Chris Rushworth, so impressive with the bat himself, put the first ball of the innings down legside and the left-hander smashed it for four.
He greeted Jamie Harrison’s opening delivery with another boundary to make reports of his demise look greatly exaggerated.
Harrison found the edge of his broad bat, but the ball flew harmlessly through the slip cordon. The bold are often rewarded that way.
So dangerous in the first innings, Mark Wood was hit out of the attack.
Trescothick pulled the first ball of his third over like a tracer bullet for four. The second and the third were driven to the long-on rope.
Forty of his first 50 runs came in boundaries, his half-century taking up just 65 deliveries.
Myburgh is two away from his. On another day he might have been caught on 40, but the ball hit the arm of a diving Paul Collingwood when Rushworth found the edge.
It highlighted what we already knew – Durham’s batsmen had not taken advantage of what, under blue skies, was a typical Taunton pitch, albeit perhaps with a bit more turn. “We really wanted 300,” coach Jon Lewis admitted afterwards.
“We needed two partnerships reallty. We weren’t going to get the lead we wanted with just the one.
“The one was excellent but we needed to back that up to apply some pressure.”
Neither Mark Stoneman nor Michael Richardson were exactly fluent in their stand of 161 but both ground out big scores. There were two disappointments – that Stoneman did not reach three figures, and that of the rest only Rushworth, a No.11 promoted by Scott Borthwick’s injury, passed 17.
Having got into the 90s with some solid batting, Stoneman got carried away at just the wrong moment.
He slapped Craig Overton for a flat six and ran two from the next ball before falling victim to the fourth ball of the over trying to bring up his century with another pull. The ball slipped off the face of the bat and was terrficly caught by Craig Kieswetter.
It is not a phrase normally used in connection with Kieswetter – like most of the wicketkeepers to represent England in recent years, he was selected far more on the strength of his batting than his work behind the stumps – yet he produced more brilliance to remove Wood.
Stoneman’s demise brought Gordon Muchall to the crease.
Selected in this match as a No.7 batsman, it was a perfect opportunity for the right-hander.
With Borthwick nursing a chipped bone in his right-hand – to the finger next to the one he chipped a fortnight earlier – Muchall had the opportunity to bat at four on a (now) benign pitch alongside a partner with 71 runs to his name. He blew it.
Muchall had made 14 when he cut straight to James Hildreth at backward point. Phil Mustard’s was a soft dismissal, bat-padding to short leg Trescothick for ten.
In a batting line-up which has started the season strongly, his struggle for form unfortunately stands out.
Collingwood has been at the other end of the spectrum, so to see him cut straight to cover with just three to his name was disappointing.
Richardson was not at his best either, but he did not let it show – at least not in the scorebook. By the time he was out, bowled by a Craig Overton delivery which kept low, he had nudged his Championship average for the season over 60.
If mid-on had hit the stumps when he scampered a single on 69, it would have been interesting to see if umpire Graham Lloyd thought he had made it. Likewise, it was unclear if the ball Trescothick dropped at slip when he as on 94 had gone to him on the full.
Even his century came streakily, edging just out of the reach of Alviro Petersen at gully to bring it up.
A leading edge evaded even the long levers of Craig Overton as he followed through, but Richardson’s luck ran out from the next ball.
With his side 186 in front, Richardson needed the lower order to make contributions. Only Rushworth, the least-regarded of them, did.
Kieswetter’s excellent two-handed diving catch did for Wood, and Harrison’s edge to first slip put Craig Overton on a hat-trick. Rushworth drove the next ball for two.
It was the first of a number of good shots – plenty of authentic drives among them – which showed him to be unflustered by the situation and better than his batting average gives him credit for. He swept George Dockrell for four to bring up the 300 and, after Pringle’s lbw departure, slog-swept the spinner for six.
Two balls later he attempted a repeat to bring up his maiden 50, and was brilliantly caught by his good friend, Peter Trego, jumping up on the square leg boundary.