Durham hunt new overseas signing ahead of NatWest T20 Blast opener against Lancashire

Graham Clark could open when Durham begin their County Championship match against Derbyshire at Chesterfield on Monday. Pic by Frank Reid.
Graham Clark could open when Durham begin their County Championship match against Derbyshire at Chesterfield on Monday. Pic by Frank Reid.

Durham are on the look-out for an overseas player to fill the void left by Tom Latham’s foot injury for the start of the NatWest T20 Blast.

Latham, who didn’t feature in New Zealand’s Champions Trophy campaign, arrived with the injury 10 days ago. It was expected to clear up quickly, but he will now be out for at least three more weeks.

With the Blast starting at home to Lancashire on Friday, coach Jon Lewis said: “I have been told I can look to see who’s available and what it will cost.

“Some players who are going on to the Caribbean Premier League in August might fancy a few games here first.”

Durham are still watching the pennies, despite chief executive David Harker’s belief that they are in a more secure financial position than at any time since their inaugural season in first-class cricket in 1992.

Accounts released yesterday show a loss of £1.2million in the year up to the end of last September, which include a loss of £50,000 on the Sri Lanka Test.

But, following the £3.8million bail-out by the ECB, a much healthier balance sheet is expected next year.

“We have a financial plan based on the agreement we have reached with the county council and the ECB which allows us to invest in the business of cricket and redeem the capital to the council over a period of years,” said Harker.

“There would have been no point in the ECB keeping us afloat if we couldn’t put a side out and maintain the ground.

“They are not vetting our expenditure.

“If we want to sign a T20 overseas man, there is no requirement to run it by the ECB. But we can’t throw millions at whoever becomes available.”

The absence of Latham, and possibly Keaton Jennings on Test duty, means Durham will need a makeshift opening pair when they face Derbyshire at Chesterfield in the Specsavers County Championship on Monday.

Graham Clark has opened in the past and is likely to join Cameron Steel at the top of the order, with Michael Richardson coming back into the middle order.

All-rounder Usman Arshad comes into the reckoning for the first time this season following a pre-season ankle operation. Paul Coughlin is also fit to return.

“We expect they will play Imran Tahir, so if it’s dry we might need a second spinner,” said Lewis.

“In that case, George Harding will get another chance.”

The chances of Chesterfield being dry after this week’s rain seem remote as Durham know that the problems experienced there last year, when the Championship match was washed out, go back a long way.

In Durham’s first season in 1992, saturated run-ups prevented any play for the first two days of a three-day match.

They went back there in early 1994 and amassed their third highest total of 625-6 declared, with debut centuries from Mark Saxelby and Jon Longley.