DURHAM may have finished the season on a high – beating visitors Sussex by five wickets in their final County Championship game of the season – but they won’t be resting on their laurels this winter, writes Gary Foster.
Skipper Paul Collingwood is delighted with the way his side have performed since he took over the reins, but he knows they still need to step things up.
He said: “We couldn’t have wished for anything better in the latter half of the season.
“We had to respond. Halfway through the season we were in a bit of a dire situation and I have to say every single person in that dressing room has put their hand up at some point and made crucial contributions.
“It has been brilliant the way the guys have stuck together. There was a lot of pride shown in the last half of the season and we deserve the wins.
“But we know that if we want to win silverware in the future we need to improve.”
Durham have already put feelers out to try to strengthen their squad for next season with a frontline batsman high on the wish list.
The men from the Emirates ICG have struggled for runs this campaign and Collingwood knows that it is a problem that needs to be addressed, particularly with Michael Di Venuto having left the county earlier this season.
“It’s crucial that we replace Diva’s runs, whether that’s from a youngster coming in and improving,” he said.
“It’s very difficult to bring someone else in. We have obviously got an option of an overseas spot in our team, but we will look at all of the options.
“Whatever happens, we want to make the best decision for Durham County Cricket Club going forward not just for next year, but for five, 10 years down the line.”
Durham are also looking to add to their bowling attack and have spoken to Glamorgan star James Harris, but they expect a lot of competition for the bowler.
Yesterday, Durham rounded off their 2012 campaign by putting Sussex to the sword, another five-fer by Sunderland-born Chris Rushworth helping to bowl out the visitors for 180 in the second innings.
It was Rushworth’s fourth five-wicket haul of the campaign and his figures of 5-38 saw better his career-best for the third time this year.
In response, Durham hardly got off to a flier with Keaton Jennings falling to an excellent catch by Michael Yard early on.
Ben Stokes looked set to lead his side home but was caught out for 45 when trying to hit Monty Panesar for six.
Michael Richardson steered Durham through a sticky patch on his way to 58, but fell lbw to Lewis Hatchet with just 15 runs needed for victory.
It was the two captains that saw the hosts over the line – former skipper Phil Mustard and current incumbent Collingwood ensuring Durham bagged the win with a day to spare.