Durham will have to play waiting game, says skipper Paul Collingwood

WAITING GAME ... Durham skipper Paul Collingwood.
WAITING GAME ... Durham skipper Paul Collingwood.

DURHAM will have no choice but to play the waiting game when it comes to team strengthening over the winter.

Both the county’s championship skipper Paul Collingwood and coach Geoff Cook have admitted that they need to bring in new faces ahead of next season.

Durham already have irons in the fire, but with the men from the Emirates ICG expected to look at bringing in at least one overseas star, it may be some time before they know if they will get their man or men.

Waiting to see whether targets are prepared to commit themselves to the cause can be very frustrating, but both Cook and Collingwood know they have little choice in the matter.

Cook said: “Ideally we’d like to get someone signed and sealed pretty quickly, because that has a knock-on effect on other potential decisions.

“We have spoken to one or two batsmen already, but it’s the same old problem in terms of the international calendar plus Twenty20 cricket around the world makes people pretty reluctant to commit themselves at this stage.

“One or two things are in the air at present, but it may be that the international calendar dictates what we do.”

Durham know only too well the pitfalls of going for overseas players.

Last season, they announced an audacious double signing of South African Herschelle Gibbs and Australian ace Mitchell Johnson for their T20 campaign.

Gibbs proved a big hit in the competition for the Dynamos, but a late and unexpected international call-up saw the deal to bring Johnson to Chester-le-Street scrapped.

There is little Durham can do to safeguard against such possibilities if they want to target the best international players from around the globe.

On top of call-ups for their country, Durham face competition from various T20 tournaments such as Australia’s Big Bash and the Indian Premier League (IPL), where stars are offered huge pay days to show off their skills in the shortest and most explosive form of the game.

And Collingwood says that the increased competition is just something they have to deal with.

“It’s so difficult trying to get someone to say yes.

“The things that are out there such as the Big Bash, the IPL and others, mean people want to wait until the last second to see what is on offer before making their decision.

“We’ve got a few names that we are trying to bring to the club, but unfortunately we will have to wait down the line a little bit before we can get them here.

One player closer to home who is on Durham’s radar is Glamorgan star James Harris, who has told the Welsh side that he wants to leave to further his England ambitions.

But again they face stiff competition, with Cook adding: “We have spoken to James, but I think we are one of 17 counties who have spoken to him.

“He’s a bright lad and a good cricketer, and he’s got certain criteria that he’s looking for and he’s going to take a little bit of care in making the choice for the next stage of his career.”

To complicate matters further, Durham will have to take into account the County Cricket wage cap when making any new signings.

Durham reported themselves for a breach of the cap in 2011, and as a result were hit with a £2,500 fine, and go into next season’s Championship on -2.5 points – and -0.25 in the limited-overs competitions.