AFTER seeing his side slip to a nine-wcket defeat shortly before rain arrived yesterday, Durham coach Jon Lewis found some solace in the form of Keaton Jennings.
Lewis and Michael Di Venuto were the only batsmen to have twice carried their bat for Durham until Jennings matched the feat yesterday and also went ahead of his coach in the county's list of first-class century-makers.
9He now has 13 and will have the chance to break into the top four before, in all probability, joining up with the Test squad in early April.
He was watched by selector James Whitaker yesterday in converting his overnight 82 to 102 before running out of partners with Durham 107 ahead.
Although the floodlights were on in fading light after lunch, Nottinghamshire coasted to a nine-wicket win with former Durham University student Greg Smith unbeaten on 60.
Their second haul of 22 points from two games took them 89 points ahead of Durham.
Lewis said: ““They were the better side over four days, but possibly not by as much as the scoreboard suggests. We came up short in a couple of areas.
“Keaton was outstanding again. He had a fantastic season last year and has started even better, which is testament to the work he has done. It's good for him and good for England.
“He looked good in the first innings, when batting was at its hardest. There were two good attacks in this match, so it was a case of which batting unit rose to the challenge better.
“Nottinghamshire's eighth-wicket partnership was very significant. When we won the title in 2013 we had three hundreds at No 8.
“We have had a lot of success based around people who are no longer here. It gives others an opportunity and we have to support them. But they have to stand up.”
With the pitch looking flatter than at any time in the match, Smith and Jake Libby had few problems in picking off the runs.
They were only 15 short of the target when Libby was yorked by Paul Coughlin for 39, and Smith finished the match by clipping Paul Coughlin sweetly off his toes through mid-wicket for his ninth four.
Batting had looked relatively straightforward from the outset, but after Mark Wood had helped to add 43 Durham's last three wickets went down tamely.
Wood looked comfortable in making 21 before pulling Luke Fletcher straight to mid-wicket. He had hit two high-class cover drives and an even more impressive cut for four off Fletcher.
Jennings moved into the 90s when he pulled Jake Ball through square leg for his first boundary of the day then did well to dig out a swift yorker from James Pattinson.
When Harry Gurney replaced Pattinson, Jennings pulled the left-armer's first ball in front of mid-wicket for four. He was on 99 when Wood departed, but ran Gurney to third man to reach his hundred off 201 balls.
Graham Onions' reluctance to get into line saw him bowled by Gurney, then Chris Rushworth pushed his first ball into the covers and failed to beat Ball's throw in going back for a second.
Other than a couple of edges, which did not go to hand, plus a very quick bouncer from Wood, there were few scares for Smith and Libby.
Durham start again on Friday at Bristol against a Gloucestershire side who were captained by Phil Mustard to an innings win against Leicestershire.