Any hopes Surrey had harboured of leaving Woodbridge Road with a first Championship victory of the season under their belt were looking bleak last night after another collective bad day at the office.
First they were softened up a little more by Will Smith, who carved himself a niche in Durham batting history by becoming only the seventh batsman to score a double hundred for the county in the Championship.
Then the Brown Hats were knocked on to the back foot by the Durham bowling attack, Stephen Harmison, looking pacy and lethal, to the fore. He found able support from fellow new ball bowler Calum Thorp – and the obliging Surrey batsmen of course. By the close Surrey had managed to get within five runs of the first innings deficit of 190 runs, but it came at a price: three key wickets.
They began their second innings brightly, opener Scott Newman displaying his considerable talent for an entertaining hour-and-a-half, fearlessly pulling and carving his way past fifty for the second time in the match.
He took a six off Thorp over square leg, then carved another off Liam Plunkett's first over which went out of the ground over the cover boundary. That turned out to be an unhappy over for Plunkett, who conceded a total of 21 runs. Plunkett went for six more in his second over and was taken off.
But having shared in Surrey's highest opening stand of the season, 96, with Stewart Walters, Newman's hopes for a second hundred in the match were thwarted when he pushed at off-spinner Paul Wiseman and was taken at silly mid-off.
When Walters departed a few overs later, caught in the gully off Thorp and followed very quickly by Chris Murtagh, Surrey were wobbling. Usman Afzaal and Jon Batty were able to steady things, adding an unbeaten 59 in 11 overs for the fourth wicket before rain drove them off with half a dozen overs remaining.
Earlier Smith, who has spent recent winters training to be a sports journalist, showed himself to be in run-Smith rather than wordsmith mode as he chiselled another 75 runs out of the toiling home attack to reach a thoroughly deserved double hundred – the eighth in Durham's 17th Championship season. He joins John Morris and Gordon Muchall, Australians Martin Love (two), Marcus North, Michael di Venuto and Mike Hussey in Durham's double hundred club. He spent eight hours at the crease, hitting 22 boundaries in his 396-ball innings. Small consolation for Surrey was the fact that James Ormond's figures of 4 for 90 were his best for three years.