PAUL Collingwood is determined to fire Durham to T20 success, and hopefully give the England selectors a headache in the process.
The all-rounder, who is recovering from a knee operation, insists he still has the hunger to do well and wants to play a big part for the Dynamos this season.
Geoff Cook’s side kick off their T20 campaign at home to Warwickshire Bears on Thursday, and Collingwood would love to be involved.
“I’m very much focused on doing well for Durham,” he said. “I’m still very ambitious and motivated to play for England.
“Once I’m fully fit I’ll be ready and raring to go and very much looking forward to getting back into it
“I’m determined to come back and get into my best form, then it will be hard for the selectors to leave me out.”
Having stood down from Test cricket, and being replaced by Stuart Broad as T20 captain, Collingwood is aware that England may decide to take a new direction when it comes to selection.
He said: “If they decide that time is up you can’t do anything about it.
“I’d be very happy with the career I’ve had for England. I’ve been very privileged to play for my country over the last 10 or 11 years.
“I’m still very hungry to do well and play for my country, but if it’s not to be then I’m happy with what I have achieved.”
Collingwood would love to achieve T20 success with Durham and believes the squad can end what has been a couple of disappointing years in the shortest form of the game.
“We’ve got the skills in the dressing room, and we’ve got the talent at the club, and I think there is now a lot of focus on doing well in the T20,” he said.
“We have spoke a lot about our plans for the competition, and I’d love to play a big part in helping Durham to success.”
First though the all-rounder must make sure he is fully fit after his knee surgery, and will make a decision on whether or not he will play in tomorrow’s opening game, later today.
He added: “If there’s any kind of concerns over the knee then it might be better to take a bit more time, but hopefully I can play.
“I’m delighted with how the knee has felt since the operation It’s probably now a case of getting that confidence back for diving around again and getting that split second timing right for taking off going for a ball.
“T20 is fast and frenetic and I don’t want to come back undercooked. I want to be ready and raring to go.”
Meanwhile Ben Stokes completed his third County Championship century of the season as his unbroken stand of 185 with Dale Benkenstein put Durham in charge against Lancashire yesterday
It was the third time this season the pair had shared a century stand and it tipped the balance in Durham’s favour in the clash of the top two.
After the morning session was washed out, they closed the second day on 279 for three, 34 behind.
Benkenstein and Stokes put on 140 in the first match of the year at the Rose Bowl then shared a stand of 170 in the last home match against Somerset.
Stokes played with great maturity as both batsmen reached 50 off 94 balls, Benkenstein’s half-century being his eighth in 12 innings as he closed on 67.
The junior partner enjoyed a two slices of fortune, though.
On 55 he got an inside edge for four off Luke Procter which just missed his stumps, then on 84 he survived a sharp chance to Paul Horton at slip off Gary Keedy.
But the power of his back-foot shots through the off side was immense and the final one scorched to the extra cover boundary off Steven Croft to give him his 13th four. His second 50 came off only 55 balls.
A brief stoppage for bad light seemed to have done Durham no favours as within two overs of the restart they slipped from 90 for one to 94 for three.
Both Gordon Muchall and Will Smith were going well when umpires Martin Bodenham and Jeremy Lloyds decided to go off at 3.04pm.
They returned seven minutes later and there was just time for Muchall to complete his sixth championship half-century of the season before both batsmen departed.
Muchall had enjoyed some luck in racing to 50 off 59 balls as several of his nine fours came off the edge, particularly in Procter’s opening over, which cost 17 runs.
Muchall tried to cut the first ball and chopped it wide of the slips then edged the next two to the third man boundary. The first was just wide of the slips and the second bisected first and second.
Smith fell for 30 when he drove wide of the off stump at Procter and edged to wicketkeeper Gareth Cross. Then Muchall was lbw for 54 when half forward to Tom Smith.
After having Michael Di Venuto caught behind in the third over, Glen Chapple returned for a second spell early in Stokes’ innings, but even he could make little impression against the richly-talented left-hander, who will be 20 on Saturday.