Durham have released 6ft 7in seamer Luke Evans and have confirmed that West Indian paceman Ruel Brathwaite will fill the vacancy.
Brathwaite, the 25-year-old Loughborough and Cambridge graduate, was an emergency registration for Durham at the end of last season and played in the final game at home to Somerset.
Evans, 23, from Sunderland, joined the academy in 2004 and was appointed to the full-time staff four years later. Although he made several one-day appearances, his only Championship cricket was when on loan to Northamptonshire last season.
“We spoke to Luke at the end of the season and told him we would be offering Ruel a contract,” said coach Geoff Cook. “That meant Luke would probably slip a bit further down the pecking order and it looks as though he has found another county, which is a good thing for him at this stage of his development.
“Ruel lives in London but has been to the West Indies for a holiday and he’s joining us in around ten days for a fitness session. He has already signed for us ahead of that.
“From what we saw he has a nice combination of wicket-taking potential, aggression and genuine pace, so we are very optimistic about him.”
Evans, who had a year left on his contract, played two first-class games for Durham, against Sri Lanka A in 2007 and Durham University this year, when he bowled only two overs before the match was washed out after the first day.
He said: “I’m sad to be leaving the club where I’ve grown up and developed as a player but if I’m going to continue to progress I need to be playing regular first-class cricket and I’m currently considering options where there may be more opportunities.”
Cook added: “Although we’ve also lost Will Gidman to Gloucestershire, and Neil Killeen has retired, we are not planning to sign any more bowlers. We want to get the rest as fit as possible.
“Things seem to be going well for Graham Onions after his back operation. He’s in the gym already and feeling positive. Steve Harmison still has a tear in his foot, but he’s doing non-weight bearing work such as cycling.
“He realises he let himself down last season. To an extent it was an understandable reaction to losing his England place, but he’s a proud guy and will want to come back strongly.”
No decision has yet been made about next season’s captaincy, nor about whether to sign any overseas players for Twenty20 cricket.
Cook added: “The structure of the season won’t massively affect our playing budget, and we have a contingency plan for overseas Twenty20 men. But we won’t make any decisions on that until we know for certain what’s happening.”