Durham pair’s NZ T20 stint to benefit county

Durham, who have qualified for the Twenty20 Cup semi-finals only once, will be hoping to benefit from the experience gained by Ian Blackwell and Mitch Claydon in New Zealand over the next few weeks.

They are to play alongside former team-mates in the HRV Cup, New Zealand’s domestic Twenty20 competition. Blackwell teams up with Ross Taylor in the Central Districts side, while Claydon will head to Canterbury, where former Durham spinner Paul Wiseman is based.

Blackwell and Taylor shared a second wicket stand of 113 in Durham’s Friends Provident t20 match against Warwickshire at Edgbaston last season, when Blackwell scored 79.

At the time it was Durham’s highest individual score in the domestic Twenty20 competition, but two games later Taylor beat the record with an unbeaten 80 at home to Leicestershire.

After that Durham’s form nosedived and Blackwell lost his place in the team for the last three games.

“The opportunity to play Twenty20 in New Zealand is one that I couldn’t turn down,” he said. “It will be great to get more time in the middle playing this format. I want to improve my game and bring the experience back to Durham so we can push on in the FPt20 in 2011.”

Blackwell and Claydon will square up on December 10 when the sides meet in a competition featuring several other English players.

Claydon, who has been playing in his native Australia, said: “This is a great chance for me to develop my Twenty20 skills. I love this format of the game and any chance I get to play during the winter can only improve my contribution to Durham’s performances.

“With a bit of luck I’ll come out with bragging rights when we play Central Districts.”

Durham’s chief executive, David Harker, said: “We have under-performed in Twenty20 and we’re keen to improve in this format. So we were pleased to be able to support the loan of two of our players to their respective sides.”

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