If a chilly wind made it hard to believe that Midsummer's Day looms, it was not difficult yesterday to deduce that an Ashes series is just around the corner, not at Edgbaston at any rate, where champions Durham registered their second consecutive victory, beating Warwickshire by 10 wickets.
The sub-plot to Durham's return to the top of the County Championship First Division table has been a battle to impress England's selectors between Steve Harmison and Graham Onions.
After Harmison had delivered another reminder that he has not gone away with five first-innings wickets on Thursday, Durham team-mate Onions stormed back with the most emphatic retort yesterday, taking 7 for 38 – and that on a pitch Harmison had described as "flat and slow". It left Durham to score only 21 to displace Nottinghamshire at the top.
Again it was a middling day for Ian Bell, who needs to make a particular impression if he is to win a recall. He completed his second half-century of the match but was almost immediately bowled by Onions, whose wicket haul in all forms of cricket this season stands at a remarkable 56.
At least Bell fared better than Andrew Strauss, the England captain, who fell for a third-ball duck on the second day of Middlesex's match against Gloucestershire.
The day's other winners were Somerset, who went third in the First Division by beating Sussex at Hove, and Essex, for whom Danesh Kaneria took 6-92, while England opener and very occasional bowler Alastair Cook dismissed Kent centurion Joe Denly for his first Championship wicket since 2005.Reuse content