Durham Jets will have captain Tom Latham available for selection into the latter stages of the Vitality Blast after the club used an option to extend his stay at Emirates Riverside.
The Jets’ fine run of form in the competition has given them a strong chance of reaching the quarter-final stage, which has prompted them to retain the services of the New Zealander.
Coach Jon Lewis has hailed Latham’s leadership along with the other senior players in his squad as key factors in Durham’s improvement in the Blast from last season when they finished bottom of the North Group with only three wins to their name.
He said: “Tom will be with us to the end. Initially he was here to end of the group stage, but there was the option to extend the deal if were to reach the latter stages.
“I fully expect Tom to want to be here. His leadership has been really good, as it has been from a few of the players, but obviously from the captain at the top that’s been important.
“I think if you look at the improvement of the side from last year, you see some of the thinking that’s going out on the field. You’ve got to look at guys like Latham, Paul Collingwood, Ben Stokes, Imran Tahir and Nathan Rimmington, who’ve either played international T20s or IPL or Big Bash.
“There’s a lots of good thought processes going on out there and it has been one of the major steps forwards for us.”
The form of opener Graham Clark has also been vital in the club’s drastic improvement in the 20-over game. Lewis believes that the 25-year-old is starting to deliver on his potential in the middle after Clark notched his second 50 on the bounce in Durham’s seven-wicket win over Nottinghamshire Outlaws last time out.
He added: “It’s taken him a little bit of time. He’s had the skills but it’s knowing how to use them to judge the tempo of the innings. That has been the big step forward for him.
“He has the right temperament, he doesn’t panic if he gets a few dot balls. He knows where to go to when he wants to find the boundary, and with his skill set he’s got a few options.
“There’s good conversations going on at the top of the order that might be helping him. He’s played 20 to 25 matches, so he may have worked it out himself, but having good players around him always helps.”
It has been a good week or so for the Clark family, as the Cumbrian’s brother Jordan claimed an all-star hat-trick of Joe Root, Jonny Bairstow and Kane Williamson for Lancashire in the recent Roses Match in the Specsavers County Championship.
Durham continue their Vitality Blast campaign against the winless Northamptonshire Steelbacks at Emirates Riverside tomorrow before travelling to take on the Worcestershire Rapids at Blackfinch New Road the following day as they seek to strengthen their claim for a quarter-final berth.