Durham four-day captain Paul Collingwood hopes he has a few more seasons left in him as a player.
The 39-year-old will lead his side for a third consecutive season tomorrow when Durham take on Somerset at the Emirates Riverside in their Specsavers County Championship Division One opener, (11am start) 20 years after making his first-class debut in 1996.
He said: “Each season certainly does not get any easier with age, and I think, physically, this season will be as testing as ever for me.
“But hopefully there are still a few years left in me.
“I am as excited for the start of this season as I was when I first started, and I am really looking forward to getting out there and hopefully scoring some runs.”
The big change to the longer format of the game this season is the change of the coin toss, with visiting captains now automatically having the choice of what to do before the first session. “Will having no toss have an impact? I really do not know,” Collingwood said.
“I cannot imagine there will be too many teams who come here and will want to bat first at the Riverside, so I imagine we will be strapping our pads on at 11am on the first morning for at least the first couple of games at home.
“It will be nice to have home advantage for three of our first four Championship games though.
“Our groundsman has worked really hard to get the pitches here more consistent, so I suppose we are still learning in terms of how the wickets are going to play this season, but hopefully we will learn quickly.”
Collingwood has recently returned from India with the England Twenty20 World Cup squad who fell agonisingly close to winning a second global title last Sunday.
And the all-rounder hopes the success of the national team can have a follow-on effect on the domestic game.
He added: “We have seen there is a lot of talent at the moment around all the counties and there are some real world-class players in all the teams, so hopefully the buzz around English cricket at the moment can have an effect on the county game this season.”
Durham were boosted by the news last week that their two England stars, Ben Stokes and Mark Wood, will be available for selection for the games against Middlesex and Surrey later this month.
Collingwood said: “We do not see a lot of our international players, but whenever they are around and available it is a huge bonus for us.
“There is a huge amount of talent here at Durham, and hopefully they can go out there this season and score the runs or take the wickets they need to do to break into the international setup soon.”