After Steve Harmison's week in the spotlight, the mantle of bowler on a mission switches to Ryan Sidebottom, whose frustration at seeing the Durham man recalled to the England squad for Lord's was not helped by his own enforced idleness as Nottinghamshire sat out the last round of Championship matches.
Yet it was two batsmen who dominated the opening day here yesterday as Durham, the title holders and First Division leaders, take on the side seen as most likely to depose them.
Nottinghamshire won the toss and Sidebottom, omitted at Cardiff, began a productive passage for the home side when his inswinging delivery trapped the Australian opener Michael Di Venuto leg before. Once 44 for 0, Durham lurched to 63 for 3 when seamer Andre Adams held a return catch to dismiss Mark Stoneman and then had Gordon Muchall caught behind off an inside edge.
But Nottinghamshire could not prise apart the Durham captain, Will Smith, and his predecessor, Dale Benkenstein, until Mark Ealham dismissed both with the final five deliveries of the day, bowling the former with a full, swinging ball before Smith was caught behind.
Until then, the pair had shown an appetite for diligent accumulation on a slow pitch in a partnership worth 193 in 73 overs, although Benkenstein had been dropped by a diving Ealham at midwicket off Charlie Shreck on 73.
Benkenstein completed his century to put Durham in a position that will look stronger still should Harmison or Graham Onions be released by England to join this contest. Smith spent five years with Nottinghamshire, yet his 87 is his highest score at Trent Bridge. Durham have nominated Callum Thorp and Mitch Claydon to stand down. By the same token, the home side would be permitted to accommodate Stuart Broad or Graeme Swann.Reuse content