Two batsmen craving renewed recognition from the England selectors were denied the attention-catching fillip of a century by another seeking to present himself as comeback-ready. Yet Samit Patel and James Taylor did enough to give Nottinghamshire a solid platform from which to chase a third win of the season against ailing, winless Durham.
Patel, who has not played for England in any format for more than a year but believes he is a credible alternative to Moeen Ali if the selectors want a batsman who can bowl spin, fell for 99; Taylor, still to add to his two Test appearances against South Africa in 2012 and who has not been named in an England squad this year, made his best score of the season but could not get beyond 88.
They combined in a fine partnership of 192 to save Nottinghamshire, who chose to bat but lost their first three wickets for 29 against a Durham side missing three seam bowlers and their first-choice spinner injured.
Yet each was out in similar fashion and in quick succession to Ben Stokes, the England all-rounder who was back in action for the first time since his broken wrist in March.
Patel, who looked in complete control after racing to 50 off 41 balls, was surprised by a ball dropped in short and was well caught by spinner Gareth Breese, who normally fields in the cordon but this time had been moved to third man.
Breese was in the right place again as Taylor, who had played with increasing fluency and confidence, slashed at a wide one and paid the price.
Stokes, a little rusty, finished with three for 70 from 15 overs. Gavin Main, a 19-year-old Scottish seamer, overcame a costly, nervous first spell to finish with three for 72 on debut, including Riki Wessels via a return catch and the other returning England bowler, Stuart Broad, whom he yorked for a duck.