New contract signals Smith’s Durham rehabilitation

Confirmation that Will Smith’s rehabilitation at Durham is complete has come with the signing of a two-year contract extension.

It was only through Mark Stoneman’s misfortune in the first match of the season that Smith got back into the team after losing his place when relieved of the captaincy the previous May.

With another season of second team cricket beckoning, the future did not look bright. But the broken hand Stoneman suffered during fielding practice at the Rose Bowl, after making a half-century in the first innings, gave Smith the opportunity he craved.

He didn’t quite hit the heights of 2008, when he scored 925 runs at 51.38 in 12 matches, prompting his elevation to the captaincy. But he was the team’s second highest scorer behind Dale Benkenstein in the LV County Championship with 978 runs and was also named Fielder of the Year at the end of season awards dinner.

Smith said: “I’ve enjoyed this season a lot. I’ve felt comfortable in the middle and what’s just as important to me as scoring the runs is knowing that I’ve played some important innings, which have helped us win games. I’m delighted to be staying with Durham for another two years.”

Coach Geoff Cook added: “Will has shown real passion, commitment and determination to get back to the performance levels we know he is capable of. I’m confident that there is even more to come.”

Durham have also handed a two-year contract to 21-year-old Mark Wood, who made his first-class debut this year, having been in the Academy since 2007.

Following the release of Ben Harmison, Wood maintains the club’s link with the Northumberland town of Ashington.

Primarily a seam bowler, he showed he is also a useful batsman when he made his Championship debut at Trent Bridge, hitting an unbeaten 45 in Durham’s second innings.

Wood said: “It feels great to be making that next step up to the professional squad. I’m going to spend the winter in Australia to try to develop my game before next season, which can’t come soon enough.”

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