Second day: Warwickshire lead Durham by 95 runs with six second-innings wicket remaining.
Few Warwickshire supporters had heard of Paul Harris before June. Even the club's coach, Mark Greatbatch, and the chairman of cricket, John Claughton, admit they knew nothing of the South African spinner until Jonathan Trott's recommendation.
A few weeks later and Harris is well on the way to becoming a club legend. Already he has claimed four five-wicket hauls in just six Championship games and it is no exaggeration to say that he has turned Warwickshire's season around. At this stage, he would appear to be the only viable candidate for the Jack Bannister Trophy (player of the year award). He has proved to be the silver lining in the Daniel Vettori affair and has already proved to be an inspired - if somewhat fortunate - signing.
Harris' contribution yesterday was typical of this season. While his colleagues faltered, he tied up an end and worked his way through the Durham order. Without him, Warwickshire would have struggled.
Indeed, even after earning a slender first-innings lead of 30, they threatened to squander their advantage as the top-order were blown away by some aggressive fast bowling. Rain curtailed the second day with the match evenly poised, but Harris has already taken as many wickets on the ground as Durham's spinners in this entire season.
Shorn of Heath Streak, who spent the whole day off the field nursing a back strain sustained in the warmup, Warwickshire's attack was unable to fully exploit a surface that remains helpful to the bowlers.
With Nick Knight standing-in as captain, Harris and Dougie Brown were required to do the bulk of the bowling. Indeed Alex Loudon, Tim Groenewald and Lee Daggett were only trusted to 11 overs between them all day, leaving Moeen Ali to try to fulfil the role of second spinner.
Harris soon accounted for Gary Scott, edging a sharplyturning delivery as he attempted a back-foot force, but a stand of 147 for the fourth-wicket turned the game back in Durham's favour.
Dale Benkenstein (79 off 115 balls, ten fours) produced the best batting of the game. Watchful in defence, he was still quick to put away the poor ball, latching on to anything short with particular relish. Ben Harmison was less convincing but went on to post his highest score in Championship cricket.
All at sea initially, Warwickshire lacked the cutting edge to dismiss him and his increasingly impressive 138-ball innings for 65 may prove to be vital.
Harris finally made the breakthrough. Reverting to bowling over the wicket, he slowed Benkenstein's progress and finally induced the mistake; the batsman edged a quicker ball on to his thigh pad and Luke Parker dived forward for an outstanding catch.
Harmison followed, picking out mid-on as he tried to hit over the top and despite some agricultural hitting from Gareth Breese and Phil Mustard, Durham finally fell 30 runs short of Warwickshire's first-innings total.
Brown proved his worth by taking three wickets. Though he lacked the menace that the Durham bowlers subsequently showed, he was tidy enough.
Warwickshire's brittle batting threatened to squander the advantage. Mark Wagh and Moeen fell in Mick Lewis' first over. Wagh went first ball, his waft at a wide one resulting in a catch to slip, before Moeen was adjudged lbw to one that straightened but appeared rather high. Knight edged a fast delivery angled across him and Tim Ambrose lost his middle stump as the ball nipped between bat and pad.
At least Trott looked in better form. Reasoning that attack was the best form of defence, Trott cut with power and became the first Warwickshire man to pass 1,000 first-class runs in the season.
Left out of the England squad and passed over as stand-in captain, it might appear to have been a grim day for Loudon. Yet both are likely to be blessings in the long term and if he can help his team post a second-innings score of around 200, he will have had a large stake in determining the course of this match and, who knows, perhaps the Championship title.
Much is likely to depend on Streak's fitness. Although he is likely to bat today, a decision has yet to be made about bowling. In his absence, Warwickshire's attack looked flat and failed to find the devil in the pitch that was so apparent for the Durham seamers.