KUMAR Sangakkara’s not the only big-name overseas star heading for Durham - G Force14 are bringing Shivnarine Chanderpaul back to the region.
We’re delighted Shiv has agreed to come and play for a Durham Legends side against the Jets in our Twenty20 game next week.
It’s a chance for fans to see one of the men who helped deliver success to the county for the first time.
When Shiv first arrived back in 2008, we had a good team that was knocking on the door of success, and he proved to be one of the final pieces in the jigsaw.
He came in and immediately helped us win our first-ever trophy, the Friends Provident Trophy at Lord’s, then returned the following season as we won the County Championship for the first time.
Shiv had a fantastic impact. I’d played against him in Under-19 cricket back in the West Indies so I’d known him for years and knew what he was all about.
He was perfect for Durham at the time and the effect he had on the county was so positive.
For me, having another West Indian in the changing room was great. It was nice to be able to sit and talk in my native tongue with someone - we got some funny looks off the rest of the lads who must have wondered what we were saying.
You don’t get many West Indians in the North East but with the two of us, plus Ottis Gibson, it was like a touch of the Caribbean had come to Chester-le-Street.
We’re famously laid-back in the West Indies, and Shiv brought some of that attitude to the club.
His commitment to scoring runs was incredible. His love for batting was second to none. He would spend hours batting in practice, and that determination and professionalism was great for young players to watch.
But he was just so relaxed about it. The way he went about his job was amazing to watch. he’d be almost asleep in the dressing room when the call would go that a wicket had gone down and he was in, and he’d just wander out to the crease in an incredibly relaxed manner.
But once he was out there, the way he manipulated the field was a joy to watch. he didn’t grip the bat tightly, which was an eye-opener to some young players, and we learned so much from him.
Shiv wasn’t a big one for talking or speaking in the dressing room, but he was happy to give advice to any young player who wanted it.
Some guys were big on chatting but he was a quiet man who got on with his job. But having his presence in the dressing room was great for the guys, and he led by example.
We were getting closer and closer to winning a trophy, and when Shiv came in he just guaranteed runs. he gave Durham that little bit of an extra edge, a bit of the X Factor.
At the time we had the likes of Michael Di Venuto, Dale Benkenstein, Steve Harmison, Graham Onions, Liam Plunkett and Phil Mustard. When you add someone of the class of Shivnarine Chanderpaul to that squad then it couldn’t really get much stronger,.
It doesn’t guarantee success, of course, but we went out and won the championship so his
After he played for us, he went on to sign for Warwickshire and won the title there too so he’s obviously got the Midas touch.
He’s at Derby this season, and we need to give thanks to them for letting him come up and play next Friday in our benefit T20 game. When I called him, he said he’d be more than happy to play depending on Derby’s schedule, and they’ve said it’s OK. It’s great to have people outside of the county showing support for what we’re doing.
As well as Shiv, Derby have let Mark Turner come up and play, and we’ve also got Harmy, Neil Killeen and Callum Thorp playing for the old boys’ team.
It’s also the first time the Durham Jets will be in action, and maybe we’ll get an appearance from Mr Sangakkara.
He scored an unbeaten half-century in the World T20 final last month to guide Sri Lanka to victory so we’re hoping he can help the Jets’ season take off in style.
H The T20 game takes place at Durham School on Friday, May 9.Tickets are £5 adults and kids £3. See www.gforce14.co.uk for more details.
WELL, he’s finally been announced - and what a signing it is.
I’m talking Kumar Sangakkara, of course, a modern-day superstar if ever there was one.
It was the worst-kept secret in international cricket that Durham were hoping to sign Kumar and the club were rightly cautious not to confirm signing Sanga until Sri Lankan permission formally received. However we are now delighted to welcome him to the North East!
We’re obviously hoping he will provide a massive boost for us in the Championship for the short time he’s with us, and if he can help us to two wins against Yorkshire and Sussex it will be a job well done.
But it’s not just on the field that Sangakkara will prove his worth, but off the pitch as well.
We’ve spoken on this page about the impact Shivnarine Chanderpaul had on young players, and it will be great for lads to be able to speak to one of the world’s best batsmen in Sanga about how he goes about his batting.
Sangakkara is ranked second-best batsman in Test cricket at the moment, but he’s the best player in the world in my opinion.
He’s one of probably only three batting ‘greats’ left in Test cricket at the minute, alongside Chanderpaul and Mahela Jayawardene, so for young lads to get the chance to share a dressing room with him and speak to him about batting, technique, anything really is an opportunity not to be passed up.
Yes, he’s only going to be here for a couple of games, and that will probably mean someone missing out for those fixtures.
But if you get the chance to sign someone of his calibre then you have to take it.
He’s a bit special.