Where: Emirates Riverside, Chester-le-Street
Ins: Stephen Cook(Overseas, first half of season), Tom Latham (Overseas, second half of the season), Cameron Steel (Youth Product)
Outs: Gordon Muchall (Retired, Mark Stoneman (Surrey), Phil Mustard (Gloucestershire), Scott Borthwick (Surrey), Asher Hart (Hampshire), Guzman Randhawa, Calum MacLeod, Jamie Harrison (Released)
Key Man: Keaton Jennings
Last Year: Specsavers County Championship: 4th (200 points)*, Royal London One-Day Cup: Group Stage Exit (5th Place), NatWest T20 Blast: Runners Up (Lost to Northamptonshire in final)
2017 Odds: County Championship: 25/1, RLODC: 12/1, T20: 16/1
Your View: Our new Durham correspondent Tom Simmonds looks ahead to a difficult season for the Chester-Le-Street based county.
At first, last season seemed a success for Durham CCC. A fourth place finish in the County Championship combined with an unexpected T20 Finals Day appearance had left an upbeat and positive atmosphere around the North Eastern club. However, in late October the atmosphere ceased to exist. Durham’s financial struggles were well documented, but until then no-one knew that the board had agreed to financial support from the ECB. As a result, the club was handed crippling penalties by the sport’s governing body. Relegation to Division Two was confirmed and Durham will be forced to start the 2017 season on the back foot due to a 48-point penalty. Even before this, everyone knew that 2017 would be a struggle for Durham in the County Championship. Opener Mark Stoneman and leg-spinning all-rounder, Scott Borthwick, both announced moves to Surrey in an effort to reportedly chase England call-ups. Both have regularly passed 1000 runs in recent seasons and the latter has been helpful, contributing regular wickets in the bowling attack. A large part of Durham’s hopes for the season will be dependent on those chosen to replace these two.
In terms of One Day hopes, it seems to be another season of mediocrity for Durham. Whilst last season’s One-Day Cup wasn’t great overall for Durham, there were occasional flashes that this was a side heading in the right direction. But with the removal of Stoneman and Borthwick, it seems Durham will have taken a couple of steps backwards in their squad building. These departures combined with a 10 points deduction for the RLODC makes any hope of ending this season with a visit to Lord’s unlikely. For the T20 Blast, it seems that Durham supporters should probably be braced for the worst. Even the most optimistic fan wouldn’t have predicted Durham’s fairytale run to the final, and whilst the addition of overseas opener, Tom Latham, yet another points deduction just seems to make another long cup run a distant fantasy.
International call-ups will either make or break Durham’s season. Keaton Jennings, almost singlehandedly, dragged the club to success last year with a mammoth haul of over 2000 runs in all formats including 1548 runs at an average of 64.5 in the County Championship. However, the opening batsmen toured with England during the winter and after a scintillating century on debut against India and many reports suggesting England plan to keep him in the squad at number three could mean that Durham spend large amounts of the season without their 2016 hero. Mark Wood is in a similar boat. The Northern paceman is almost certainly going to spend most of 2017 with England, providing his injuries don't resurface. It would be yet another big loss for Durham, the recovering paceman was a regular threat last season with his rockets providing a constant threat to county batsmen, the bowler was an especially key figure in Durham’s T20 Blast success. Of course no-one is expecting Ben Stokes to make a regular return to Durham colours any time soon, the Durham all-rounder now being the England Test vice-captain.
Where I think Durham will finish:
County Championship Division Two: 6th
One-Day Cup: 6th (North Group)
T20 Blast: 8th (North Group)
By Tom Simmonds (@Studentsonsport & @MiddleOffStump)