Ryan Sidebottom fired Yorkshire's second-successive County Championship title march with a three-wicket maiden in the opening over against Middlesex at Lord's.
Yorkshire retained their title as rivals Nottinghamshire collapsed against Durham, with former England seamer Sidebottom's opening salvo proving pivotal.
Sidebottom passed 700 first-class wickets with five for 18 as Yorkshire were confirmed as champions when Nottinghamshire slipped to 204 all-out against Durham at Trent Bridge.
Despite securing the title, Yorkshire must wait until the completion of the match to get their hands on the trophy.
Head coach Gillespie's men still have two more championship fixtures to play following their Lord's fixture, and will now target setting a record points total for the county game's top flight.
Middlesex consolidated second place in LV= County Championship Division One after surviving a nervy start at Chester-le-Street to beat Durham by 71 runs.
James Harris took four of the remaining five wickets to finish with five for 71, his third five-wicket haul of the season, which included nine for 34 in the home win against Durham.
In the first 55 minutes, Scott Borthwick and Ryan Pringle added 56 runs and at 190 for five, with 118 needed, Durham were in the ascendancy. But 50 minutes later it was all over.
A Harris yorker took out Pringle's off stump after the all-rounder had hit three fours in a Tim Murtagh over in reaching 36.
While Toby Roland-Jones kept it tight, there were also 13 runs off Harris' first over before he struck with the first ball of his second.
Borthwick, on 68 overnight, reached 1,000 championship runs after moving to 83 but he fell for 95 when he drove at a gentle swinger from Neil Dexter and edged to John Simpson.
The wicketkeeper then held a leg-side catch when John Hastings gloved a short ball from Harris to depart for eight.
Chris Rushworth fended Harris to gully, leaving debut boy James Weighell to play a few shots after taking 17 balls to get off the mark. He reached 24 before skying Harris to Paul Stirling at deep backward square to end Durham's innings on 236.
History will have to be hard-earned if England are to win four home Ashes Tests for the first time after Australia dug in effectively to reached 242-3 on the opening day of the Fifth Test.
Durham cricketers Mark Wood and Ben Stokes took one wicket each, as the tourists sought to put behind them the miserable performance with which they lost the urn at Trent Bridge.
Ashington born Wood took England's first wicket of the day - Chris Rogers for 43 run.
The opener, David Warner was eventually dismissed by Moeen Ali after earning 75 runs.
Skipper Michael Clarke, playing in his final Test, made 15 runs before Ben Stokes had him caught behind.
Steve Smith (78 not out) and Adam Voges (47 not out) will continue batting for Australia at the Kia Oval from 11am, August 21st.
England are on course to win the Ashes, after Durham's Ben Stokes took five wickets, putting them on the verge of an innings victory.Read the full story ›
England begin their Ashes campaign this morning, with Durham cricketers Mark Wood and Ben Stokes, among the starting line up.Read the full story ›
The start of the cricket season is almost upon us and Durham's media day was a mix of the familiar and the unexpected.
It was no surprise to find last year's One Day Cup winners in confident mood at Chester-le-Street, but it was a surprise to find England's newest fast bowler owns an imaginary horse.
Our Sports Correspondent Simon O'Rourke explains:
Durham County Cricket Club's first match this season is against Durham Men's University team (MCCU) on April 7.
Durham fast bowler Mark Wood has been selected by England for the upcoming Test series with West Indies.
The Ashington born cricketer impressed during the recent England Lions tour to South Africa and has now been called up to the senior squad for the first time in his career.
A graduate from Durham's hugely successful academy, the 25-year-old made his first class debut in 2011.
Along with the rest of the Durham squad, Wood is currently in Dubai preparing for the new season.
The three-match series between England and West Indies gets underway on the 13th of April in Antigua, with the first of two warm-up matches scheduled to take place seven days earlier.
"I am delighted. Especially when I haven’t played that many games, it is good that people have seen something in me."
“The Lions tour was fantastic and couldn’t have gone any better for me.
“I managed to put a run of games together and put in the performances and that has obviously stood me in good stead."
ITV Tyne Tees' Simon O'Rourke has been catching up with First Team Coach Jon Lewis, ahead of Durham's cricketers' Royal London One-Day Cup Final.
They face Warwickshire at Lords tomorrow and Simon was able to grab Jon just before the team got on the bus at Chester-le-Street this morning.
Durham's cricketers set off for London this morning ahead of their Royal London One-Day Cup Final. They face Warwickshire at Lords tomorrow. We caught up with Durham's One Day Captain, Mark Stoneman before they got on the bus at Chester-le-Street this morning.