Durham have further underlined their determination to make an impact in Twenty20 cricket this season by signing Australian paceman Mitchell Johnson.
Following the capture of Herschelle Gibbs, Johnson will be the second overseas player for the Friends Life t20 competition, in which there are ten group games from June 15 to July 8.
Named ICC Cricketer of the Year in 2009, the 30-year-old left-armer has appeared in 47 Tests, 107 one-day and 28 Twenty20 internationals. But injury and inconsistent form have seen him slip down the Australian rankings.
Former Australia captain Ian Chappell once said of Johnson: “He’s either very very good or very very bad.”
Paul Collingwood’s influence in bringing in the two overseas men is clear as he played with Gibbs for Perth Scorchers in Australia’s Big Bash this winter, while Johnson would also have played had he not undergone surgery on a toe. Both Gibbs and Johnson are due to play for Mumbai Indians in the Indian Premier League.
Johnson, who has also scored a Test match century, said: “I’ve heard brilliant things about Durham from Paul Collingwood when he played over in Perth and I’m really excited about joining up with the squad. Delivering match winning contributions is important to me and that’s not just with a focus on my bowling.
“All round performances in t20 are really important and I want to leave in July having secured our place at Finals Day!”
Durham chief executive David Harker added: “Mitchell is an excellent addition to our squad and he will certainly be a force to be reckoned with.
“One of our ambitions for 2012 is to get to t20 Finals Day and we have made the investment to bring in players we feel will enhance our already talented squad to help us achieve that.”
Durham have reached finals day only once, in 2008, when they were comfortably beaten by Middlesex in the semi-finals at the Rose Bowl. Last year they went out tamely at the same venue in a quarter-final tie against Hampshire.