THERE’S life in the old dog yet!
I’m not talking about myself – I’m still a pup! – but Durham’s very own Colly.
OK, enough of the dog jokes...
Durham skipper Paul Collingwood announced this week that he was going to stay on at the club and has signed a new contract.
Obviously, it’s great for the club keeping him here for another season. It doesn’t look like we will be blessed with the biggest budget next year to bring new players in, so it’s vital that we keep someone like Colly, with all his experience.
And the fact that he’s going to keep the captaincy in the four-day game as well is important. It let’s the younger players concentrate on their game, rather than worrying about taking over the reins.
Colly’s a fantastic role model for every young cricketer coming through the ranks at Durham. They can look at the success he’s had, the way he goes about his cricket and the way he keeps himself in great nick.
He’s been there and worn the T-shirt. He’s had success at every level, in every form of the game from domestic level and also, obviously, on the international stage.
Just like it’s great to have really good overseas professionals coming into the club, like Kumar Sangakkara and the likes, it’s also important that we have players of Colly’s experience in the dressing room for as long as possible.
At the start of the season, he was obviously talking about this being his last campaign, but it’s no surprise he’s changed his mind.
He’s had a pretty good season in one-day cricket and he’s obviously been enjoying his cricket still.
People say you’re a long time retired – not me, I’m still a pup! – and I guess that’s true. I think you certainly know when it’s the right time to pack in but Colly’s clearly not at that stage yet.
He’s signed on for another year but you never know, he could stay longer. I think he’ll just look at taking each year as it comes.
I’m often asked what makes Colly such a good skipper, and what his major attributes are.
He backs his players, which is what they want, and it gives them confidence. And there’s certain situations in games where there could be indecision as to which way is right to go, but Colly will weigh up the situation pretty quick and stick with the decision he’s made. That comes from experience.
With everything he’s achieved in the game, he’s got the respect of the whole dressing room, and he gets the whole team behind him.
And winning the title last season, with a squad that was tipped to be relegated, was obviously massive and showed what he’s all about.
Now, hopefully, he will be able to guide us away from potential relegation this season.
It’s been a funny old season for us. It’s fine lines in cricket sometimes. We were winning games in the final hour of four-day cricket last season, but it’s gone the other way this year.
Injuries haven’t helped either, particularly to the bowlers, but we hope to have Mark Wood back for the last couple of games.
Graham Onions hasn’t been totally ruled out of the rest of the season I think, but it’s not looking good. It’s been a frustrating year for him, what with the Ashes and then a place being up for grabs. But he’s come back from worse before, it’s just disappointing that we’ve lost our spearhead.
That’s not to say, though, that we can’t get on a bit of a roll in our last four games. We’ve got a game in hand on the teams around us and we’re confident we can get a couple of wins that will see us to safety.
EVERY cricketer would love to play in a Lord’s final, so for us to still be in with a shout is great.
We’ve got our Royal London One-Day Cup quarter-final against Yorkshire tomorrow.
We know them quite well, and we’ve been on a bit of a roll in the one-day stuff recently so we will go down there full of confidence.
We beat Yorkshire in the Twenty20 earlier this season, and we know that the pressure of the home crowd at headingley can sometimes get to them. If we can get at them early, and get the Western Terrace turning on them instead of us for a change, it will be an advantage.
It’s about time we made some serious progress in the one-day games. Obviously, Durham got to Lord’s in 2007, and we’ve got to a couple of Twenty20 quarter-finals, but no further.
This is massive for everyone, and it keeps the spirits up in the camp.
It can also help our four-day cricket too. At the minute, we’ve been putting teams to bed and hopefully that can continue on in the Championship.
A good cup run is excellent for morale and confidence.
And getting to Lord’s would also be special for my G Force pal Breesey.
We have been good mates since he came to the club in 2004 and it’s sad that he’s not going to be with us next season after his contract wasn’t extended., but unfortunately things change.
He’s been a massively popular guy in the changing room over the last 10 years, and it would be extra special if we could make his last game for the club a final at Lord’s.