Durham could have three captains this season, with Paul Collingwood admitting it has yet to be decided who will be in charge for the NatWest T20 Blast.
The four-day skipper will be 41 by the time that competition starts and Keaton Jennings, captain for the 50-over Royal London Cup, could be on Test duty.
After several niggling injuries last season, much will depend on Collingwood’s fitness, but he insisted that other leaders are emerging following the loss of previous one-day captain, Mark Stoneman, to Surrey.
Having initially intended to retire two years ago, he said: “I’m carrying on mainly because I want to keep playing, and partly because the club needs me at a difficult time.
“It’s an unfortunate situation we are in, starting the season on minus 48 points, and it’s going to need some strong characters around the club.
“It can be quite surprising what some of them contribute in the dressing room. They might not stand out as natural leaders but there are some people who could do the job.
“Paul Coughlin is an example. His work ethic is second to none and he is the sort who could move the team and the culture forward.”
Seam-bowling all-rounder Usman Arshad has had an ankle operation and will miss the first two months of the season.
But with Mark Wood available to support Graham Onions, Chris Rushworth, Coughlin and the pacy Brydon Carse, Durham still have Barry McCarthy and James Weighell in reserve.
Durham continued their preparations for the season against Durham University yesterday, with coach Jon Lewis still to decide on the make-up of his side.
Lewis said: “Mark Wood got through more overs on Tuesday than he has for eight or nine months.
“They were short spells and he had good pace in the last one. He came through unscathed and every spell gives him more confidence as he gets over his mental scars.
“With him and Keaton around in early season we are encouraged by having quality players available.
“That could change later in the season and we might consider a loan signing. But we always want to offer opportunities to local players.
“That’s something we are proud of. That was the point of being here in the first place and it hasn’t changed.”
Yesterday, Jack Burnham hit 150 and Michael Richardson made 116, the pair putting on 209 for the third wicket, as Durham posted 404-5 declared, before the students made 45-2 by the close.
Batsman Graham Clark needed some runs to compete for a top-order slot, given this weekend’s arrival of South Africa Test opener Stephen Cook, and he made 57.
Burnham’s century followed up an impressive hundred in the friendly against Middlesex at the start of the week and new signing Cameron Steel weighed in with a half-century against his former club.