County Championship 2021: Durham preview
6/6 North Group
IN: Scott Borthwick (Surrey), Cameron Bancroft (Aus), Will Young (NZ), Alex Thomson (War, loan)
OUT: Scott Steel (Leics), Sol Bell, Josh Coughlin, Gareth Harte, Nathan Rimmington, James Weighell, Ben Whitehead (all released)
Scott Borthwick – having had several of their homegrown talents picked off in recent years, the Durham faithful will be cheered to see the return of Borthwick, who will captain the side. With the leg-spin which earned him a Test cap in 2014 now rarely given an outing, the 31-year-old can focus on offering some much-needed ballast to a flaky batting unit.
Matty Potts – the Sunderland-born seamer was named Durham’s T20 Player of the Year last season and will be hoping to translate that form into red-ball cricket, where his appearances have so far been sporadic. Potts, who debuted in 2017 but is still only 22, could not ask for a better tutor than Chris Rushworth, who took his 500th first-class wicket last summer.
County Championship 2021: Durham Fixtures
Nottinghamshire v Durham, Thursday 8 April, Trent Bridge
Essex v Durham, Thursday 15 April, The Cloud FM County Ground
Durham v Derbyshire, Thursday 22 April, Emirates Riverside
Durham v Warwickshire, Thursday 29 April, Emirates Riverside
Durham v Worcestershire, Thursday 13 May, Emirates Riverside
Derbyshire v Durham, Thursday 20 May, The Incora County Ground
Durham v Essex, Thursday 27 May, Emirates Riverside
Worcestershire v Durham, Thursday 3 June, New Road
Warwickshire v Durham, Sunday 4 July, Edgbaston
Durham v Nottinghamshire, Sunday 11 July, Emirates Riverside
*Divisional Matches to be played between 30 August and 24 September.
You can check the full list of county championship fixtures here.
Winless in last summer’s BWT, Durham’s squad looks thin – not helped by Gareth Harte’s decision to pursue opportunities in South Africa and the surprise exit of promising young batsman Scott Steel, who rejected a new deal. Alex Lees has rediscovered the form which led Geoffrey Boycott to tout him as a future England opener, and he will form a strong opening pair with Cameron Bancroft, the Australian international who impressed for the county in 2019. But they will need much more weighty contributions from Ned Eckersley, Jack Burnham and Sean Dickson. The trio only mustered two half centuries between them last summer. Will Young’s arrival from New Zealand should also boost their hopes.
County Championship 2021: Durham prediction
3rd in Division 3
This preview first appeared in issue 42 of Wisden Cricket Monthly.