Nottinghamshire 328 (Patterson-White 73, Slater 60, Clarke 48, Rushworth 4-75, Raine 3-63) and 125 for 5 (Hameed 58) lead Durham 165 (Evison 5-21, Broad 3-36) by 288 runs
Nottinghamshire brushed aside Durham's attempt to manufacture a place in Division One of the Championship with artificially short boundaries as they took a stranglehold on the match at Emirates Riverside and, in the process, assured themselves of their own qualification for the September culmination to the season.
It is quite a transformation for a county that had to wait until early May before ending a 1,043-day run without a victory.
Those short boundaries were intended to propel Durham to maximum batting points, only for them to be dismissed for 165, not manage a single batting point, and concede a first-innings lead of 163. Notts extended that to a lead of 288 with five wickets remaining by the close as every ball resisted by Haseeb Hameed , before Scott Borthwick spun one past his defence, for 58, shortly before the close, communicated that he was in no mood to relax even though promotion was assured.
Nottinghamshire now join Yorkshire, Lancashire and Somerset as claimants to Division One places in the end-of-season climax. Warwickshire are now strong favourites to join them, with Durham having to hope for an extraordinary victory plus a Warwickshire defeat on Wednesday to pull off a miracle.
That leaves Gloucestershire desperately trying to stave off defeat against Hampshire at Cheltenham. A forecast of unbroken sunshine suggests only an overnight Covid alert, and immediate cancellation, can save them. Not that deliberately getting your phone to 'ping' would be a particularly moral way to pass the evening.
Joey Evison, a 19-year-old medium pacer, England U-19 via Stamford School, destroyed Durham's first innings with a post-lunch spell of 5 for 21 in eight overs. If Durham could fiddle the boundaries, they could do nothing about the weather and leaden skies hung over Emirates Riverside, as if in meteorological denunciation, until minutes before their innings was complete.
Evison, who swings the ball, predominantly away from the right-hander, accepted his opportunity with growing excitement. It was a decent spell of swing bowling, a career-best that he can take pride in, but he will not find many batting line-ups as accommodating in the future.
At close of play, he excitedly announced Notts' qualification before the country's cricket websites had worked out what was happening. And people fear that we are about to surrender to an automated society.
"We're going into that top conference of the County Championship," he said. "That's where we wanted to be looking at our targets for the season. We're looking to push for that win tomorrow. Getting the five-wicket haul is one of those things I can tick off early in my career. I didn't know what was going on. Getting four wickets in four overs has not happened to me before. It's one of those moments that you have to embrace."
Two of his wickets, David Bedingham and Borthwick, required decent deliveries to remove batsmen of proven ability; Bedingham remains on course to be first to 1,000 runs, even if we did once imagine he might pull it off by the end of May, and it's now July 13. Borthwick's batting form has been much patchier but he carried a captain's desire for success in his first season in the role. The other three wickets were gifts, inadequate responses to a high-pressure day.
Durham's openers fell to Stuart Broad - the presence of an England player, limbering up for the India Test series, being quite a bonus in mid-July. Both Cameron Bancroft and Rob Jones fell to big breakbacks. Notts' loyalists would have watched the replays and judged them stone dead. Durham supporters would have been aghast. Both were probably umpire's call.
Even so, at 77 for 2 with the afternoon session an over old, Durham might have imagined that 400 - and maximum batting points - was still possible. Bedingham, who now plays as an overseas player since his ancestry visa became an irrelevance, once again looking a player of understated class, and Borthwick was purposefully scrapping away.
Then Evison, the fifth seamer to be used, was thrown the ball for the first over of the afternoon. His fifth ball was one of the best of the day, swinging back from around leg stump and tempting Bedingham to hunt out the legside. That was the first of four wickets to fall for nine runs in 37 balls; the management plotting about the boundaries had taken longer than the time it took to make it a pointless exercise.
Evison, whose opportunities last season were limited because of a foot injury, removed Sean Dickson for a 13-ball duck, a horrible sliced pull shot which flew skywards and into the hands of the stand-in wicketkeeper Joe Clarke.
The left-handed Borthwick was beaten by outswing twice in the next over. The first fell on the half-volley to the diving Brett Hutton at second slip, but it proved to be a useful warm-up exercise as he held another low catch, this time between his legs, later in the same over. Ned Eckersley fell for a second-ball duck, Evison this time appealing while sat on his bottom after falling over in his delivery stride. It was another marginal leg before decision, but if you stand in front of your stumps, as is the in-vogue method, and you find an umpire in 'out' mood then you have brought it upon yourself.
By now, the short boundaries had been forgotten [Had they?! Ed]. When Ben Raine tried to clear them, he fell at deep* square (*the word deep is used advisably). Lyndon James, who even then was in from the rope, took a routine catch.
Hameed took advantage of clear skies after tea, as did some of the crowd who went into somnolent mode, enjoying the sun on their face and presuming Division Two was now a certainty. The next time they watch Championship cricket, autumn will be creeping nearer.
Hameed clipped Rushworth to the boundary to reach his fifth half-century of the season from his 100th delivery. Durham did not give up the ghost, with Matt Salisbury and Matty Potts taking two wickets each, and who knows, if they wrap up Notts' innings in the first hour tomorrow and then slog for all they are worth, those short boundaries might yet turn out to be a masterstroke. The clever money, though, is elsewhere.