After an absorbing day’s cricket in chilly conditions Gloucestershire and Durham settled for a draw. Durham, chasing a victory target of 205 were 85/4 when the captains agreed to pull up the stumps.
The home side were indebted to a last wicket stand of 45 in 15 overs between David Payne and Chris Liddle which thwarted the visitors progress after a post-lunch spell by Chris Rushworth and Graham Onions saw Gloucestershire slide from 253/4 to 275/9 and the brink of defeat.
Gloucestershire resumed this morning in gloomy light on 175/3 with Chris Dent unbeaten on 64 and George Hankins on 9. The pair looked in little trouble until the introduction of Brydon Carse who persuaded Hankins to flick a catch to short square-leg with the Gloucestershire lead 86.
Dent and Phil Mustard continued to deny the visiting bowlers as Dent moved towards his century. But on 95 he had let-off.
Chris Rushworth, taking the new ball in his first over of the morning, saw Dent edge to second slip where Michael Richardson grassed the chance. Richardson’s angry pounding of the turf betrayed how important that moment could have been. Dent quickly recovered and reached his 12th first-class century, one of his slowest – from 241 balls – but a model of defiant concentration. At lunch the hosts had reached 252/4 from 85 overs, a lead of 136.
Durham emerged after lunch with renewed vigour, determination and volume levels. It soon bore fruit as Mustard was trapped lbw by Onions at 253/5. In the next over Dent’s 258-ball vigil came to a close when he was excellently caught by Paul Collingwood at first slip from a superb Rushworth ball which left him outside off stump.
Next to go was Craig Miles, caught at slip off Onions, putting Gloucestershire 255/7. In four overs since lunch with the new ball Rushworth and Onions had changed the match and put Durham into a winning position. Jack Taylor pushed at Rushworth and was lbw to make it 255/8.
Liam Norwell and David Payne added 20 before Carse, always getting more bounce than the other Durham bowlers with his high action, had Norwell caught behind off his glove. With the sky darkening and rain spitting the drama increased as Richardson dropped Liddle at slip at on 297/9.
When Collingwood fizzed a bouncer under Liddle’s chin the umpires took the players off for bad light and an early tea. Gloucestershire were 181 in the lead with a minimum of 45 overs left in the day.
After tea it took ten overs for Durham to end the spirited last wicket stand of 45 between Payne and Liddle. When Onions finally bowled Liddle for 21 Payne was 36 not out. It was an excellent effort from the two Gloucestershire seamers. For Durham Onions (4/68) and Rushworth (3/75) were the standout performers. It was their joint effort after lunch which gave Durham their chance.
Chasing a victory target of 205 from a minimum of 31 overs Durham got off to the worst possible start as Stephen Cook was lbw in Payne’s first over. Graham Clark, conscious of pushing the score along, was caught on the square leg rope for 7.
Collingwood survived two confident lbw shouts from Payne but the third was successful to put Durham 15/3 and for the first time in the match Gloucestershire were on top.
Van Buuren tempted Richardson to hole out to mid off for 26 but at that point Keaton Jennings (30) and Cameron Steel (17) dug in and were unbeaten at the close.
After the game David Payne said how delighted the Gloucestershire team were with their fight and character particularly against a word-class bowling attack and how it was good to get into a position where the team could have won.