Durham pace battery regaining its power

Durham are hoping they will shortly have a clean bill of health in a powerful seam attack which lost much of its potency through injury last season.

Graham Onions expects to be given the all clear in the next few days to start bowling and three more who were on the casualty list last September should be fully fit at the start of the season.

Steve Harmison has recovered from a tear beneath an ankle and is ready to start turning his arm over, Mark Davies has been doing some light bowling and Callum Thorp has recovered from minor knee surgery.

After missing the whole of last season, Onions was ahead of schedule in his recovery from the major back surgery he underwent six months ago. But there has been a slight delay in the scan he was due to have, which is now scheduled for February 28.

Liam Plunkett and Mitch Claydon were also briefly sidelined last season, but the former has maintained his fitness with England Lions this winter and the latter has been playing in Australia.

The new addition to the pace bowling ranks, Barbados-born Ruel Brathwaite, has been training with Durham for the last month after turning down offers to play abroad this winter.

Coach Geoff Cook said: “We decided that it was best he should stay in England so we could look after his registration. In another year he will be England-qualified as long as he spends the right amount of time in this country.”

Brathwaite, 25, made his first-class debut for Loughborough University five years ago and also spent a year at Cambridge. He played for Durham in the final match of last season, at home to Somerset, before being offered a two-year contract.

Durham hope to announce in the next few days that they have signed an overseas player for this year’s Friends Provident t20. Last year’s pair, Ross Taylor and Albie Morkel, are not available but Durham are keen to land another big-hitter to play alongside Paul Collingwood.

England’s Twenty20 World Cup-winning captain wants to play from the start of Durham’s Twenty20 programme, which begins at home to Warwickshire on June 2.

Cook said: “After the current World Cup and then the Indian Premier League, Paul would like a short rest. But he’s keen to get involved in all cricket with us.

“He wants to be involved in the Twenty20 from the start and will be available for at least the first eight games. After that it depends on his England one-day commitments.”

Durham have increased capacity for England’s NatWest Series one-day international against India on September 3 due to huge demand for tickets. A further 2000 temporary seats will be installed, taking capacity to over 17,000.

Chief executive David Harker said: “The interest in this fixture has been huge and we’re looking forward to welcoming England and India with a full house at Emirates Durham ICG.”

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