Sunderland-born all-rounder Ben Raine is set for a sensational return to Durham CCC – five years after leaving the club.
The 26-year-old, who released by Durham before joining Leicestershire in 2013, has signed a three-year contract for all formats of the game, which will see him commit his future to Durham until the end of the 2021 season.
Despite being offered a contract extension from Leicestershire, Raine, who was born in Sunderland and made his First Class debut for Durham in 2011, decided to move back to the North East for personal reasons.
Raine has impressed with both bat and ball over the past few seasons and has scored 1922 First Class runs, including eight half-centuries and he has also taken 201 wickets.
He has also recorded 72 wickets in 67 white ball games and scored a prolific career best 113 from 46 balls in this year’s Vitality Blast.
“I’m extremely grateful to Leicestershire and the opportunity they have given me and for their understanding in me wanting to move back to the North East,” Raine said.
“I’m delighted to be returning home and signing for Durham, I’m passionate about the region and determined to help the club compete for silverware again.”
Durham head coach Jon Lewis said: “Ben is a player who can help us compete in all formats with both bat and ball.
“He has opened the bowling in first-class cricket, bowled in the powerplay and at the death in the Vitality Blast and can bat in a number of positions.
“He’s proud to be from the North and he’ll fit well in our dressing room.”
Meanwhile, Durham batsman Cameron Steel hopes to build on his innings against Northants last week after admitting he has struggled for form this season.
Steel scored his fourth half-century of the campaign in the defeat but the 22-year-old has not been able to kick on in the 2018 campaign.
The opener is confident he can end the season on a high note in the four remaining games, starting at Edgbaston against promotion favourites Warwickshire today.
“I’d describe my season as ordinary,” he said. “I think I’m averaging 26, it’s not the season that you want.
“Obviously last season is the one that you want every year. It’s getting used to this level again and consolidating everything that you’ve got. Bowlers figure you out a little bit.
“I think they called it second-year syndrome. Things fell into place more in my second innings against Northants, sometimes all you need is one off your legs to get into a rhythm and then it becomes a lot easier from there. I got that in the first couple of overs, they gave me a couple in my area.
“It’s massive for me to use this innings to build momentum to end the season. You can score two hundreds and it turns into a good season statistically.
“I can definitely get a few more runs and if that goes into a couple of wins with the boys it goes into our rebuilding stage.”