Waiting 17 years for your first Championship, as Durham did, is hardly excessive by the standards of county cricket. Sussex took more than a century to win their first in 2003, after all, and there are a handful of counties who are still waiting.
Like Sussex, whose first title brought two more soon after, Durham look keen to add to their maiden triumph of 2008. Having bowled Hampshire out for 105 yesterday in their First Division match at the Rose Bowl, they scored 311 – of which Will Smith made 80 – before their England bowling duo, Graham Onions and Stephen Harmison (who struck twice), reduced the hosts to 52 for 4 by the close.
Lancashire know what it's like to wait for a championship, their last solo triumph having come before the war. They won the toss against Somerset at Old Trafford yesterday and decided to bat, a decision that looked a good one as they progressed to 162 for 2 after lunch. A collapse – sparked by Peter Trego, who removed Ashwell Prince for 48 and Mark Chilton for 2 – left them teetering on 219 for 8 as stumps approached.
It was attritional at Headingley, where Yorkshire were bowled out for 225 from 94.5 overs. Sussex, in reply, were unable to improve on that snail's pace, reaching 78 for 3 from 33 overs.
Middlesex are well-placed to win their Second Division match against Essex at Chelmsford having bowled the hosts out for 157. The young Englishman Steven Finn did most of the damage, taking 5 for 57 before Andrew Strauss and Nick Compton took Middlesex to 60 for 0 in their second innings.
Elsewhere, Mark Butcher hit 65 for Surrey in a total of 159 for 3 against Glamorgan (Mark Ramprakash was 50 not out overnight) and Gloucestershire moved to 58 for 1 against Derbyshire in the short period available for play at Chesterfield.