GORDON Muchall says Durham must transform themselves from “nowhere” men back into county cricket’s top dogs.
Having won the plaudits and a host of trophies in recent years – Friends Provident Trophy winners and Pro 40 Division Two champions in 2007 and consecutive County Championship victors in 2008 and 2009 – last season was a disappointing one.
They could only finish fifth in the title race and having been knocked off their perch, batsman Muchall insists it’s vital they get back on top sooner rather than later.
“It was a hard season for everyone last year,” he said.
“We went from being top dogs to being nowhere in all forms of the game and that was difficult to take.
“Everyone at the club felt a huge sense of disappointment with how things worked out.
“We know what we have to do to put that right and everyone is focused on getting us back to where we want to be this season.”
Muchall didn’t start last season in the first XI, but worked his way back into the reckoning in the second half of the campaign – weighing in with some crucial knocks, including an innings of 111 against Nottinghamshire.
This time around, the 28-year-old is hoping to be firing on all cylinders throughout the season and started the pre-season campaign with an unbeaten 54 in Durham’s two-day friendly clash with Sussex out in Dubai earlier this week.
“I was pleased I managed to get in the starting 11, but to be honest, my aim has to be to try to get in there from the start of the season,” he admitted.
“If I can get some time out in the middle, then it is up to me to work hard to build an innings and get some early runs under my belt.
“If I get a chance then it is up to me to take it.”
Muchall is hoping to be fully fit for the start of the new season, having gone under the surgeon’s knife during the winter.
He said: “I had an operation on my shoulder, which has been bothering me for some time. It’s a case of just seeing how things go at the moment, but I feel fine.
“We were all back in training together early this season, There is a real determination to get off to the best possible start.”
Durham beat Sussex by two wickets in a one-day friendly yesterday. Muchall hit 26, while Gareth Breese weighed in with 44.
A Twenty20 tournament against Nottinghamshire, Sussex and the MCC starts tomorrow and it could be a family affair for the Muchalls, after Gordon’s younger brother Paul – MCC Young Cricketer of the Year – was called into their squad.