IF any match summed up why Yorkshire are the county champions, and why they will surely retain their title next month, this was it.
For the umpteenth time, or so it seems, but never quite so dramatically perhaps, Yorkshire found someone to dig them out of a difficult situation.
First, it was Tim Bresnan and Ryan Sidebottom, whose 10th-wicket stand of 67 on the opening day, after Yorkshire had slipped to 95-9, helped them to a first innings lead of six runs.
Second, and most spectacularly, it was Glenn Maxwell and Adil Rashid, whose sixth-wicket partnership of 248 in the Yorkshire second innings, after the hosts had slipped to 79-5, ultimately decided this compelling contest.
Yorkshire went on to a final total of 440, after they had begun the third day yesterday on 420-9, leaving Durham 447 to win from a minimum of 187 overs.
Only seven times has a side scored more runs to win a County Championship match – including Durham themselves, who chased 451 to beat Somerset at Taunton in 2004, when a certain Martyn Moxon was their head coach.
On a sultry day at Scarborough, where the choking grey skies added to the sense of a Yorkshire team closing in for the kill, Durham never looked like adding to that figure.
The visitors were dismissed for 263 in 68.1 overs, Liam Plunkett taking 4-61 and Adil Rashid 3-66, to give Yorkshire their sixth successive Championship win, their best sequence since 1999, and their eighth victory in 11 Championship matches this summer to go with three draws.
“To win inside three days after being 95-9 in our first innings and then 79-5 in our second, it’s beyond belief how we’ve done that,” said first-team coach Jason Gillespie, whose side ended the day 50 points clear at the top with a game in hand.
“We had to fight incredibly hard for the win – Durham have got one of the best attacks in the country, and the way that Tim Bresnan stood up in the first innings and Glenn Maxwell and Adil Rashid in the second was fantastic, while our bowling and fielding was top-notch too.
“Don’t get me wrong, we’re in a wonderful position in the table, and this was a really great result, but we don’t want to get ahead of ourselves.
“We’ll give the lads a few days off now, as they’ve had a lot of cricket in a short space of time, and then we’ll get stuck into training and our preparation again for our next challenge, which is the Royal London game against Northants followed by our next Championship game against Sussex at Hove.”
Before a crowd of 4,400, which took the match aggregate to 13,800, Yorkshire plundered 20 runs from the first 13 balls of the day before Steve Patterson fell to the 14th.
Patterson had hit four fours (three off Graham Onions, one off Chris Rushworth), before Onions cleaned him up as he made room to try to strike through the off-side.
Durham made a rousing start to their chase, reaching 46-0 off 10 overs, as Mark Stoneman and Graham Clark regularly found the boundary.
But there was just enough in it for the bowlers, who beat the bat regularly too, and Stoneman fell with the total on 54 when he was caught-and-bowled by Bresnan.
Durham recovered to reach 107-1 before Plunkett celebrated his retention in the England squad for the fifth Ashes Test at the Oval by taking two wickets in four balls either side of lunch.
Clark walked across his stumps and was lbw to the final ball before the break, while Scott Borthwick was brilliantly caught after the restart by a diving Glenn Maxwell at third slip, a breathtaking grab that brought the crowd to its feet.
Plunkett, all athletic antagonism from the Trafalgar Square end, bounced out Gordon Muchall, who fended to wicketkeeper Andrew Hodd to leave Durham 143-4.
Michael Richardson and Jack Burnham, the 18-year-old debutant, frustrated Yorkshire for an hour to add 53 before Richardson was lbw to Bresnan for 48.
Yorkshire took two more wickets just before tea when Rashid had Ryan Pringle held at mid-wicket by Gary Ballance, followed by Andrew Gale running out Jamie Harrison from cover.
The last rites did not take long after the break.
Rashid won an lbw verdict against John Hastings and then had Rushworth caught at cover by Plunkett.
Burnham showed bravery in recording his maiden half-century and the highest score of the innings before he skied Plunkett to mid-on, where Gale took the catch to spark vociferous cheers among the home support.
Colin Graves, the England and Wales Cricket Board chairman and the former Yorkshire chairman, has been appointed the next president of Scarborough Cricket Club in succession to Sir Gary Verity. He will serve a one-year term from April.