PAUL Collingwood says Durham have proved they aren’t a fading force in the County Championship.
The men from the Emirates ICG finished off their four-day campaign with a five-wicket home win over Sussex, to complete a remarkable turn-around in fortunes.
When Collingwood took over the captaincy from Phil Mustard, Durham had failed to win any of their 10 County Championship matches. They were sitting bottom of the table, and staring relegation in the face.
But since the all-rounder took over at the four-day helm, Durham have avoided the drop to Division Two, and were unbeaten in their last seven championship matches – winning five.
Collingwood believes that is proof that Durham can more than compete in the top flight of English cricket’s domestic game.
He said: “In the end it’s been a season that we can take a lot of positives from as we avoided relegation.
“We’ve certainly got to grips with four-day cricket in the last seven or eight games, and hopefully we can carry that over into next season.”
Collingwood is well aware that Durham’s early-season form in the this year’s championship left a lot to be desired.
But he insists the county hasn’t become a bad outfit overnight, and that the poor displays were down to a temporary slip in form rather than a sign that they are on a downward spiral.
“I think the way we finished proves the first half of the season was a bit of a blip.
“It was a bit of a shock to us all. We knew we were better than that, but we just never got going.
“In the second half of the season the standard of our play has been very high and we have managed to win games because of that.”
Durham are expected to try to add one or two players to their squad over the winter with Glamorgan bowler James Harris one of the players they have spoken to.
They will also look to bring in an experienced opening batsman, but Collingwood says that the county’s talented youngsters will still get a chance to shine.
“You have got to give young players the opportunity to do well in the first team,” he said.
“A lot of the youngsters have done fantastically well in the second team, and they have come in and performed in the first XI.
“Richo (Michael Richardson) and Keats (Keaton Jennings) have come in done pretty well, and Woody (Mark Wood) had a bowling spell at Nottinghamshire (5-78), which pretty much won the game for us down there.
“The future’s very bright here at Durham, but our standards overall have got to lift from what they were this season if we want to compete for silverware in the future.”
Collingwood and Phil Mustard saw Durham over the line to claim victory over Sussex, and the skipper was quick to praise his predecessor.
“We had a bit of a chuckle about it as we came off the pitch – the two skippers for the season.
“Phil’s been absolutely magnificent all the way through the season. We had a bit of bad luck earlier in the season, but I wouldn’t put it down to Colonel’s captaincy.”