Durham’s Invincibles

It can be argued that county cricket is not up to the standard that it should be, but set the bench mark at winning the ashes and it is of a reasonable and acceptable level to say the least.

So to go through the domestic league season unbeaten shouldn’t be quaffed at as a minor achievement neither should winning back to back county championships (2008 and 2009).

This is the remarkable achievement of Durham in the domestic county scene over the past two seasons, coupled with the Friends Provident Trophy win in the limited over tournament back in 2007 shows for a county which has come far in recent years.

Think back to 1992, what were you doing? I was in secondary school and developing a love of cricket. Durham were preparing for their first season in first-class cricket since been granted first class status in 1991.

It hasn’t been an easy ride for the county and as an ardent Yorkshire fan I was rather pleased to be honest. But I have to admit that my dislike has turned into admiration for the county who are dominating the domestic scene.

In the following decade after inception the county struggled despite many high profile signings aimed at boosting the profile of cricket within the county. Sir Ian Botham, David Boon, Dean Jones and Shoaib Akhtar to name but four came to play but only minor progress was made.

In 2004 rock bottom of the county scene things could only look up. The county had to attract cricketers who had a thing or two prove and not just make a quick pound or two.

Mike Hussey arrived and once his county success resulted in Australian recognition, Dale Benkenstein took his place and prospects began to improve, promotions to the domestic four-day and one-day scene significantly helped the club prosper.

The rest they say is history and Durham are firmly established as the county to beat after the recent successes of the county both on and off (test status granted in 2003, three tests played so far).

Although initial success was achieved with pessimism in the county game this season it has been gained with the utmost respect.

The club have gone from strength to strength with first team players including Shiv Chanderpaul, Ian Blackwell (pictured below), Paul Collingwood and Graham Onions this list could go on and on!

The future is bleak for other counties as Durham are set to dominate after a phenomenal season which has seen 8 victories and 8 draws in their 16 county championship matches. They have a fantastic and strong batting line up and a bowling attack which could easily line up in international cricket for England (Plunkett, Harmison, Onions, Blackwell), how do the others match this?

Having the finances and the broad area for attracting local talent are readily available to many counties. The key is turning this into a playing staff who are hungry for success and Durham have this playing staff in abundance.

My only hope is that Yorkshire can regain pride and challenge with Durham for the 2010 championship, time will tell as I always say but well done to Durham and all behind the scenes including coach Geoff Cook to make them the ideal model for county cricket success.

Cheers for reading.

Gaffers

P.s. I want to say a huge well done to my friend Andrew Vile who on friday swam the English Channel for charity in a time of 15.5 hours.

His designated charities are:

UK: http://www.justgiving.com/Andrew-Vile/

Australia: http://www.everydayhero.com.au/andrew_vile

Make a donation if you have the funds and time available, well done again Andy! Respect is due!

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