THEY huffed and they puffed but they could not blow the house down.
Yorkshire were forced to settle for a draw after a wholehearted effort to beat champions Durham.
Needing 12 wickets to win on the final day, Yorkshire took six of them to cause one or two flutters in the home camp.
But a combination of obdurate batting, 11 overs lost to rain and a flat pitch contrived to frustrate the visitors in their search for a second County Championship victory of the season.
Although disappointed not to prevail, Yorkshire were rightly pleased with the positive way they responded to last week’s defeat against Middlesex at Lord’s, when the hosts knocked off 472 to record the third-highest chase in County Championship history.
It would have been all-too easy for heads to drop after that result and for self-doubts to have surfaced, but there was no evidence of any hangover at Chester-le-Street where Yorkshire drove the match from first day to last.
From the moment Andrew Gale took the courageous decision to bat first in bowler-friendly conditions, and his team responded by racking up 589-8 declared, Yorkshire were in control.
The odds were always slightly against them going into the final day, but there was no shortage of skill or striving as they chipped away with the persistence of masons shaping a piece of rock.
After Durham resumed on 61-8 needing another 79 to avoid the follow-on, Yorkshire enforced it after dismissing them for 388 before the hosts closed out the game on 100-4, Keaton Jennings and Paul Collingwood surviving for 35 overs before the sides shook hands.
Martyn Moxon, Yorkshire’s director of cricket, paid tribute to his players’ battling efforts.
“It was a very good response to what happened at Lord’s,” said Moxon, who revealed that Yorkshire are awaiting confirmation from England as to whether Joe Root and Gary Ballance will be available for Sunday’s Championship game against Warwickshire at Headingley following tomorrow’s one-day international.
“That defeat against Middlesex could really have knocked us, particularly then going to the Riverside to play the champions.
“But it showed the character of the lads the way they bounced back and the desire they’ve got to go one better this year in the Championship.
“Overall, I thought we played really well, and we certainly batted as well as I’ve seen us bat for quite some time.”
Yorkshire’s task at the start of day four was simple: to take the last two Durham wickets as soon as possible and get the hosts back into bat. In effect, that task proved anything but simple.
The ninth-wicket pair of Jamie Harrison and Graham Onions eked out 22 runs in 16.1 overs before rain forced the sides off after 55 minutes.
The stoppage lasted 35 minutes and, when play resumed, Yorkshire struck in the second over after the restart when Kane Williamson bowled Harrison for 31, ending a stand of 45 in 27 overs.
Further rain at 12.45pm forced an early lunch with the score 386-9 and, when play resumed at 1.35pm, two more runs had been added when Yorkshire finally captured the last wicket.
Liam Plunkett, having softened up Onions with a couple of short balls, had him caught behind playing off the back foot. Onions made 21 from 100 balls in an innings lasting nearly two hours.
Plunkett finished with 3-74 against his former club, Adil Rashid capturing 3-73.
Tim Bresnan could also be pleased with his efforts in his first appearance for Yorkshire this season.
Durham’s second innings began inauspiciously when Mark Stoneman broke his bat digging out the opening delivery from Jack Brooks. Having struck a career-best 131 in the first innings, Stoneman made no impact this time as he was unluckily run out with the score on 10.
Jennings punched back a delivery from Plunkett which the bowler diverted on to the stumps with his left hand, leaving Stoneman stranded at the non-striker’s end.
Durham fell to 10-2 when Brooks – who bowled much better than he had in the first innings – had Scott Borthwick caught behind for a golden duck with a brutish bouncer.
It might have been 10-3 but Kumar Sangakkara avoided a pair when he was given not out by umpire Alex Wharf after appearing to edge Brooks into the wicketkeeper’s gloves.
Yorkshire were aggrieved and their frustration increased when Sangakkara was dropped on three by Plunkett at fourth slip off Brooks, although it would have been a remarkable grab low to his left.
Ryan Sidebottom got Sangakkara for 14 when he chased a ball he had no need to play and edged to second slip, Durham falling to 42-4 when Rashid had Michael Richardson caught behind – at which point there were theoretically at least 41.5 overs left to be bowled.
But Jennings and Collingwood held firm, Jennings scoring 54 from 166 balls with seven fours and Collingwood 14 from 91 balls with one four.
DISPLAY OF THE DAY