DURHAM coach Geoff Cook is hoping for a triple boost heading into tomorrow’s Clydesdale Bank 40 trip to Northamptonshire Steelbacks.
Dynamos beat Leicester Foxes by 37 runs last weekend, but were without a number of their key players that day.
Cook is hoping to welcome those absentees back into the fold tomorrow, as his side chase qualification for the semi-finals – they have the best second-place return as it stands, with just one more match to follow the Northants trip.
Young guns Ben Stokes and Scott Borthwick return from England Lions duty, while opener Michael Di Venuto look set to return after missing the Foxes game through injury.
“Michael (Di Venuto) had a practice session in the nets yesterday, and we are hoping that he has come through it without suffering reaction,” Cook said.
“He had a similar session before last week’s game, but his injury (badly bruised hand) swelled up again and he had to sit things out.
“Hopefully, there won’t be any reaction this time, but we will wait until tomorrow before making a final decision on whether or not he is OK to play.”
Cook certainly has a number of key selection decisions ahead of the clash at the County Ground.
Stokes and Borthwick look likely to walk back into the starting XI, as does Di Venuto should he passed fit.
But the Durham coach says it is the type of selection headache he welcomes.
He added: “It’s good news to have Borthwick and Stokes back. They are two very good cricketers, and bring a lot of skill and energy to the field.
“I’m sure they will both be raring to go, and it will be a bonus to have them back.”
Durham have had a few days break, having not had a game since last Sunday, and Cook admits it has been a welcome breather for his side.
“It has been a pretty hectic run of cricket up until last Sunday,” he said. “The days off have allowed the lads to recharge their batteries, and hopefully they will come back all the fresher for tomorrow’s game.
“We need to make sure that we give a strong performance, and hope things go our way.
“Last weekend’s win was a big one for us, as it gave us a real lift, and we now we have to look to build on that.”
One man to have benefited from the mini lay-off is Paul Collingwood. The all-rounder featured against the Foxes, but was unable to bowl because of a back problem. However, he is expected to be fully fit, having bowled in yesterday’s nets.
Durham have also been boosted by the availability of seamer Graham Onions. Onions had been called up as stand-by for the England squad amid injury worries over Jimmy Anderson.
However, the Durham ace was released back to his county after Anderson proved his fitness.
The Dynamos will be looking to turn the tables on the Steelbacks, who have already beaten them in the 40-over competition this season.
In May’s clash at the Emirates ICG, Northants cruised to a five-wicket win, passing Durham’s 172 with nine balls to spare.