DURHAM set up a potential LV= County Championship title decider with Yorkshire at Scarborough when they moved into second place with an innings and 144-run win at home to Surrey yesterday.
Durham are 25.5 points behind their neighbours with a game in hand after bagging 23, one short of the maximum, against hapless Surrey who took only two points from the match and remain bottom of Division One.
The match against Yorkshire begins on Wednesday.
Not even a dashing innings of 89 by the world’s best batsman, Hashim Amla, could save them from suffering a heavy defeat at Chester-le-Street for the second successive year.
Once Amla had gone 20 minutes before lunch, the rest swiftly followed, with Mark Wood taking three wickets in four balls either side of the interval on his way to career-best figures of five for 44.
Five successive batsmen fell to catches by wicketkeeper Phil Mustard as Surrey succumbed for 169 after following on 313 behind.
Amla was on a different planet from his new team-mates, scoring his runs off only 110 balls with 13 fours. He was on 32 when Surrey resumed on 52 for three and began by repeatedly tucking Jamie Harrison’s left-arm swing away through mid-wicket.
Zander de Bruyn contributed only 12 to a fourth-wicket stand of 68 before he was caught low down at third slip by Michael Richardson in Wood’s first over of the day.
He had been dropped off the previous ball by Keaton Jennings at leg slip as Durham tried a variety of imaginative field placings.
Only Chris Rushworth troubled Amla, having a good shout for lbw turned down with the batsman on 48 and beating him on 85.
On both occasions the next ball was dispatched for four, but straight after the last one he flailed at a ball well wide of off stump and Mustard took a one-handed catch high to his right.
That made it 137 for five, then off the last two balls before lunch Steve Davies and Gareth Batty edged to Mustard. Gary Wilson survived Wood’s hat-trick ball afterwards but then drove wide of off stump and gave the wicketkeeper a straightforward catch.
Mustard’s next one was a spectacular effort diving away to his left down the leg side to see off Chris Tremlett, who must have wondered how his team could suffer such a heavy defeat after he had taken eight for 96. Finally Tim Linley skied an attempted pull off Wood to give short leg a simple catch.