G Force with Gareth Breese and Gordon Muchall: Colly wobbles? Not at Durham

TRICKY DECISION: Paul Collingwood is coaching with England.
TRICKY DECISION: Paul Collingwood is coaching with England.
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THERE’S been no Colly or wobbles around Durham this last few weeks!

While we’ve been preparing hard for the new season, and the defence of our County Championship crown, our skipper Paul Collingwood has been sunning himself in the Carribbean!

Let’s just hope he’s had plenty suncream on that strawberry blonde head of his!

It’s a great honour for Colly to be brought into the England coaching set-up, and he’s already shown his worth by helping them to a one-day series win against the West Indies.

Naturally, though, it’s led to a bit of talk around the North East about whether he would be available for Durham this season or if England would snap up his services full-time.

But everyone at the club is delighted he’s come out and committed himself to the club for another campaign, once the World T20 is over.

Colly, as a bloke, has had to work hard for everything he’s got. He wants to be the best at whatever he does and it’s no different with his coaching, so it’s great that he’s said he wants to play for Durham this season though he did admit it would be a ‘tricky decision’ if he was offered a full-time role with England.

However, we’re delighted we’ll be seeing him back at the Emirates soon.

Colly’s influence at Durham has been huge, no more so than in last year’s County Championship triumph.

What Colly has done for Durham is there for everyone to see. His captaincy and leadership has stood out, and he’s galvanised a young squad and motivated the troops to help bring us a third title, and with him at the helm for 2014 our sights will be set high again.

Unfortunately we’ve lost Dale Benkenstein (pictured), who has left to become head coach at Hampshire, and anyone who follows Durham will know how lucky Hampshire are to have him and what a great loss he will be – not just on the field but what he does in the changing room. His leadership has been huge to the success Durham have had.

But we are still very positive about the new campaign. Geoff Cook has handed the reins over to Jon Lewis, who along with Alan Walker, Mike King, Ali Maiden, Neil Killeen and John Windows have been keeping us focused and working hard to make sure we leave no stone unturned in the defence of our title.

There’s been a couple of other changes, with great servants Callum Thorp, Will Smith and Steve Harmison also not at the club this season. But the young lads that came in showed their class and stepped up to the mark. That’s the Durham way – deserving young players have always been given the opportunity to showcase their skills – and they’ll have to do it again. We’re sure that by the end of this season there will be some new young players making themselves recognised!

If you look at the stats then our top four players from last season are still there. Scott Borthwick and Mark Stoneman both scored 1000 runs and Chris Rushworth and Graham Onions were the best opening bowling partnership in the country.

The nucleus of the team that won the title remains, and as long as we don’t have too many England or Lions selections or injuries then we’ll be competitive.

Ben Stokes has hopefully cemented his place in the England team and Scotty got his chance at the end of the Ashes so we’ll see how often they’re available, but we’ll still have a great season.

We’ve worked hard in the winter and there’s a buzz around the place. The start of the season looms and a strong MCC team awaits the champions in the season opener. Can’t beat some hot weather and cricket outdoors!

All the lads are excited at going away to Abu Dhabi – as always! Bring on 2014!

Twitter: @GForce14Benefit