Chris Rushworth is ready to embrace the role of the leader of Durham’s bowling attack for the new season.
The club has endured another off-season of departures as Graham Onions and Paul Coughlin left the Riverside, leaving a void in the bowling ranks.
Onions and Coughlin combined for 59 first-class wickets last term, with the former England Test bowler boasting an average of 22.65 in his eight matches.
But Wearsider Rushworth led the way for Durham with 47 scalps, maintaining his high standards with the red ball.
And the 31-year-old now has to lead a youthful attack, which has shown signs of potential, but remains an unknown commodity over the course of a full Championship campaign.
Rushworth said: “I have to see myself as the leader of the bowling unit.
“You look at the guys that we’ve got in the squad I think I am by far and away the most experienced bowler. Now I’ve got to take on that level of seniority and take the younger guys under my wing.
“I’ve got to help them along and get their careers up and running the best way that I can.
“It’s something that I’m looking forward to do doing and hopefully the club can continue to produce more top-class fast bowlers.”
Durham has a proud tradition of producing elite pacemen - Simon Brown, Steve Harmison, Liam Plunkett, Mark Wood and Onions have all represented England at Test level.
Rushworth is upbeat that the county will continue in the vein of creating quality bowlers and feels that the current crop of youngsters, including fellow Wearsider Matthew Potts, are brimming with talent.
He added: “We’ve got a strong history of producing fast bowlers. Looking at the squad that we have now and take myself out, all the bowlers are very young.
“We’ve got Nathan Rimmington coming and he’s another experienced guy, but you’re looking at James Weighell, Brydon Carse and Potts – there’s plenty of youth there and they’ve all got huge potential.
“It’s now a case of making sure that they realise that early and they get stuck into their careers.”
Despite the youthful nature of Durham’s bowling ranks, Rushworth is adamant he will not be putting himself under any additional strain with the ball to lead the way for the county this term.
Rushworth said: “I wouldn’t say I was under more pressure - because you’re always putting yourself under pressure to perform. Obviously everyone wants to take wickets and win games, so it’s just a case of doing the things that I have been doing.
“If I want to lead the attack the only way I can do it is by taking wickets and performing. I’m entering the season with the same mind-set as I have over the past five years.”