Worcs pacemen Richardson and Roach put wind up Durham
|LV County Championship Division One, Chester-le-Street|
|Close, day one: Durham 264, Worcestershire 21-1|
|Worcestershire 3pts, Durham 2pts|
Worcestershire pacemen Alan Richardson and Kemar Roach took the honours as they bowled their side to within sight of safety at windy Chester-le-Street.
Richardson and Roach took three wickets apiece as Durham were bowled out for 264, earning three of the eight points they need to be sure of staying up.
Ex-skipper Will Smith top scored with 66 for title outsiders Durham, who then had Worcestershire 21-1 at the close.
But Durham's hopes are fading after missing out on three batting points.
They know that, if Warwickshire, 296-3 overnight, pick up a sixth bonus point from their game with Hampshire at The Rose Bowl on Tuesday, Durham's bid for a third title in four years will officially be over.
Durham went into their final game 15 points adrift of leaders Warwickshire. Victories for either the Bears or Lancashire, struggling against Somerset at Taunton, would put the 2008 and 2009 champions out of the running.
On a gale-torn day when it was so windy that the umpires allowed play to proceed without any bails on the stumps, Worcestershire have already got the one point they needed to climb out of the drop zone and relegate Yorkshire.
But, while Durham's title hopes were blown away on the remnants of Hurricane Katia, Worcestershire made virtually certain of Division One safety thanks largely to their old warhorse Richardson.
The 36-year-old Division One leading wicket taker showed no sign of blowing as he took 3-46 to become the first top flight bowler to reach 70 wickets this season.
CLOSE OF PLAY SUMMARIES
BBC Hereford and Worcester's Trevor Owens:
"Strong winds throughout the day made conditions difficult for both fielders and batsmen - in fact, the umpires opted to play without bails after the wind repeatedly blew them them off the stumps.
"Will Smith batted well for Durham in making 66, but the home side will be disappointed with their overall total as the majority of their batsmen got a start but were unable to go on and make the big score needed.
"Worcestershire lost skipper Daryl Mitchell before the close and will be hoping the storm blows itself out overnight, so that batting conditions might prove easier on day two."
BBC Newcastle's Martin Emmerson:
"The summer of 2011 has not been good to Durham, particularly in the latter half of the season. Too many games have been badly affected by rain and now we get the tail end of a hurricane.
"Batting was difficult and 264 could yet be a good score. But I lost count of the amount of times the bowlers were disrupted when running in and had to abort their deliveries to start all over again.
"Durham will need to go shopping for some new covers, because one set of them is wrapped around a bush in the car park and torn to shreds."
Durham batsman Will Smith:
"I have certainly never encountered conditions like that before. It was hard for the bowlers. Even when batting, there were times when you were blown off your feet. But it must have been very tiring to bowl in that.
"It is a difficult wicket to score runs on. I thought when I was out there if we could get to 300 that would be our third batting point and a good score in the context of the game, but I think our score was still a good score given the conditions and tomorrow morning we can work on getting some wickets.
"Our bowlers will have to be mentally strong, as their bowlers were in those conditions."