Nottinghamshire's fading title challenge suffered what could prove to be a fatal blow at Worcester yesterday, where they drew with the hosts.
In truth, that was the best that could have been hoped for at the start of the day when the home side, who will be playing in the Second Division next season, looked the likelier winners. A topsy-turvy run chase gave Nottinghamshire hope but in the end they had to settle for an eighth game without a win, leaving Durham close to a second title in two years.
Set 358 for victory in 74 overs, they finished on 351 for seven after both sides created opportunities to secure the win. Steve Davies, approaching the end of his Worcestershire career after signing a three-year deal with Surrey, equalled a county record with six catches in the innings but crucially dropped Ali Brown when there were still 17 overs to bowl.
Brown was on 55 when the wicketkeeper failed to hold an edge off Imran Arif and he made the most of his let-off by reigniting the run chase with captain Chris Read, taking 31 off two overs of left-arm spin from Moeen Ali.
Nottinghamshire were encouraged despite losing further wickets. Brown drove Gareth Andrew to mid-on after making 84 with 10 fours and two sixes and then Davies combined with Richard Jones to remove Mark Ealham. Read, unbeaten with 70, and the big-hitting Andre Adams (29 not out) put on 53 from 34 balls but could not make 21 off the last over despite four wides from Andrew's first delivery.