2018 Cricket Season Preview: Durham CCC

A look ahead at Durham's hopes and chances for the new season.

2018 Cricket Season Preview: Durham CCC
The Jets squad for the 2018 squad | Photo by Jan Kruger/Getty Images

After the disappointment of the 2017 season, Durham will be looking to put their main difficulties behind them. Although whether or not they can is much debated.

2017 Season

County Championship: Ninth - Division Two

Royal London One-Day Cup: Fifth - North Group

Natwest T20 Blast: Ninth - North Group

IN: Aiden Markram (until 14 May), Tom Latham (until mid-August), Axar Patel (from 19 August), Will Smith and Nathan Rimmington

OUT: Paul Coughlin, Keaton Jennings, Graham Onions and Jack Burnham (1-year ban)

Q&A

What are your hopes for the County Championship, Royal London One Day Cup and Vitality T20 Blast this year?

The sheer number of penalty points last year really prevented the club from being able to compete in earnest. This year is virtually a clean slate for the club. 

Whilst promotion into Division One will be possible, it will certainly be a long shot. For this year, the focus if far more on moving further up the table and continuing to rebuild from the ECB bailout fiasco.

There are a number of strong sides in Division Two this year, but anything lower than fifth will be seen as a disappointment.

Having struggled last year in both white ball formats, the club will be hoping the introduction of Tom Latham as captain will re-invigorate the side.

Any progress in the Blast will be a welcome bonus, but qualification from the groups in the One-Day Cup will be seen as at least a reasonable goal.

How big an impact will the new signings have on the squad?

In terms of the overseas signings, they can certainly be a huge boost to Durham's chances this season. Aiden Markram has been a revelation for South Africa since his debut, the opener currently averages 55.55 in Test cricket.

Providing he adapts to English conditions quickly, Markram's four-match stint could be a major part of Durham getting their season off to a quick start. 

The returning Tom Latham will provide some much-needed batting depth, as well as bringing some stability to the club's lineup.

Axar Patel is somewhat of an unknown quantity although he has a very impressive record in Indian domestic cricket. Patel will provide Durham with a good spin option whilst also lengthening the batting order.

Will Smith will return to the club and will hopefully be a key feature in the Durham top order. Nathan Rimmington will bolster the pace attack, although whether or not he adds more than the recently departed Graham Onions is uncertain.

How will Durham cope with the number of outgoings?

Durham's quality has been much reduced over the offseason as the effects of the bailout are still being felt. Keaton Jennings had been the star of the squad but left to reportedly try and save his England career by playing for Lancashire in Division One.

Jennings scored a lot of important wins for Durham and certainly be sorely missed across all three formats. 

Paul Coughlin was very highly regarded as the future of Durham's bowling attack and the all-rounder's departure is a sore spot for many a fan. Seeing any local, academy player leave is sad enough, let alone one who was a bright talent and will be very hard to replace.

Despite Graham Onions' recent injury problems and lack of playing time, he was still a fan favourite and was very capable of chipping in with valuable wickets. 

Who will be your key player for the season?

It seems ridiculous, but even as he heads into his 23rd year at the club, Paul Collingwood is still key.

An effective leader, an incredible run scorer and very much Mr Durham Cricket, Collingwood will yet again play a key role in inspiring any Durham success.