Durham’s 2022 season was one to forget, summed up by the loss of 10 championship points when Nic Maddison’s bat failed a bat-gauge test in September’s draw at Derbyshire. They finished sixth in Division Two and eighth in the North Group of the Blast, with just three wins from 13 completed games. In the One-Day Cup they ended pointless, having lost the two points from their one victory because of repeated disciplinary offences. The situation was not helped by the premature departure of head coach James Franklin. The poor results were a surprise given the quality of the squad, both from a batting and bowling perspective, but there is a suggestion that there might have been problems behind the scenes at the Riverside. There have been some key departures, headlined by that of county stalwart Chris Rushworth, who has moved to Warwickshire for personal reasons. Experienced wicket keeper Ned Eckersley left the club mid-season, having now been replaced by Kent’s Ollie Robinson and bowling coach Neil Killeen has moved to the same role with England.
Durham director of cricket Marcus North will be hoping the appointment of new head coach Ryan Campbell will bring a change in fortunes. The 51-year-old Australian has most recently been in charge of the Dutch national side and previously worked as a batting coach for Hong Kong. North should be well acquainted with Campbell having played in the same Western Australia side for a number of years.
Durham’s final position in the County Championship was on the back of just three losses and some performances in which they were unlucky not to come away with more than a draw. Four of their top order batters averaged over 40, Matthew Potts claimed 58 wickets and Ben Raine, 47. Rushworth was less effective than previous seasons with 34 wickets, but his presence will undoubtedly be missed. North has talked about recruiting an overseas pace bowler to fill the void, especially if Potts and Brydon Carse are called away. Carse had a frustrating 2022 season. Having broken into the England one-day side in 2021, he was sidelined initially by a knee cartilage tear and then by a toe injury last summer, which restricted him to just two Championship games. He seems to be back to full fitness, having been part of the Eastern Cape Sunrisers that won the inaugural SA20 tournament, then playing for the Lions in Sri Lanka before turning out in four of Durham’s six wins in their recent pre-season tour of Zimbabwe. It should not be forgotten that they also have Mark Wood on their books, who managed three championship games for the county in 2021. Durham have also signed 26-year-old seamer Brandon Glover. He played for South Africa under 19s, but was tempted away to play for The Netherlands, based on his Dutch passport. He has been at Northamptonshire for the last three seasons, but only appeared in three One-Day cup games last year. He is joined by another Dutch recruit, Bas de Leede. This is the 23-year-old all-rounder’s first foray into county cricket, but he looks to be an exciting if raw talent.
Spin has not been a traditional threat at Chester-le-Street and slow left arm spinner Liam Trevaskis only claimed 16 championship wickets at 52.6 in 2022. He has been joined by leg-spinner Nathan Sowter, who played for Durham in last year’s Blast competition. His main threat is in the white ball formats, although will not be available for the One-Day cup as he is committed to the Oval Invincibles. It has been rumoured that Australia spinner Todd Murphy is set to join Durham for a spell before the Ashes, although his impact early season might not be dramatic.
With just four wins from 21 completed white ball games last summer Durham will be hoping for better this season. They have signed young South African batter Tristan Stubbs for the Blast. Stubbs was the most expensive player in the auction for this year’s inaugural SA20, playing alongside Carse for the Eastern Cape Sunrisers. He finished the competition with a modest 190 runs at 21.11 with a strike rate of 133.8 and a top score of 30. Durham will be hoping he will continue to progress and help turnaround their fortunes in this competition.
Durham have enjoyed a successful six match preseason tour to Zimbabwe, posting some dominant performances against first class opposition. It is difficult to make comparisons, but Glamorgan were alongside them, playing the same teams and Durham appeared to make significantly lighter work of the opposition. Lees scored 306 runs in five games and Trevaskis took 15 wickets. Back home Raine took five wickets, 18-year-old Ben McKinney scored a century and David Bedingham 92 on the first day of a three day friendly against Durham UCCE, while they will simultaneously play a two day game against Yorkshire, before their opening Championship fixture away to Sussex.
Despite a brief sojourn in the Midlands, Ben Raine is a man of Durham and has been improving year on year, primarily as a seam bowler, but also as a useful lower order batter. The 31-year-old’s 47 championship wickets came at just 25.25 last season and he also scored 366 runs at 26.1, including an undefeated century. He is recognised as a threat with the bat in white ball cricket and in 2018 recorded the then second-fastest T20 century by an Englishman, reaching 100 from just 41 balls playing for Leicestershire against Warwickshire at Edgbaston. If Durham fail to achieve the results they will be hoping for, then it is unlikely it will be the fault of Raine.
One to watch
Lancashire-born Michael Jones has been steadily building his reputation as an opening batter, initially in Lancashire’s academy before moving over to Durham’s senior academy in 2018. In that year he debuted both for the senior Scotland side as well as Durham. The 25-year-old has shown that he can match his more illustrious partner, Alex Lees, at the top of the Durham batting order, scoring 878 championship runs at 51.64 last season, including a double century against the Middlesex attack. He can also contribute in white ball formats, scoring 319 runs at 26.58 with a strike rate of 140.5 in the Blast as well as posting a run-a-ball century against Middlesex in the One-Day Cup. He was limited to just two 50-over matches because of international duties. He has cemented a regular place in the Scotland side, being part of their recent T20 World Cup squad and his importance to them has grown with the retirement of Kyle Coetzer.
Overseas signings: David Bedingham (South Africa), Tristan Stubbs (South Africa, for T20)
Ins: Ollie Robinson (Kent), Ben McKinney (Academy), Ross Whitfield (Academy), Nathan Sowter (Middlesex), Bas de Leede (UKP), Brandon Glover (Northamptonshire)
Outs: Sean Dickson (Somerset), Matt Salisbury (Leicestershire), Chris Rushworth, (Warwickshire) How will they fare: Durham have plenty of well-known names in their squad (we have not mentioned Ben Stokes!) and will be looking for a much better return in 2023 than they enjoyed last season. There is no reason to believe that they cannot be competitive in all
Probable Durham championship XI
- A Lees
- M Jones
- S Borthwick (c)
- D Bedingham
- O Robinson (wk)
- J Bushnell
- L Trevaskis
- B Carse
- B Raine
- M Potts
- P Coughlin