Newspaper article The Journal (Newcastle, England)

Boys Must Become Men - Di Venuto

Newspaper article The Journal (Newcastle, England)

Boys Must Become Men - Di Venuto

Article excerpt

Byline: Stuart Rayner

D URHAM'S increasingly experienced "youngsters" have been told to start acting their age by Michael Di Venuto.

A season scarred by injury has handed chances to some on the fringes of the squad.

Their birth certificates might say otherwise, but 23-year-old Luke Evans, Kyle Coetzer (26), Ben Harmison (24), Mark Stoneman (22) and Will Gidman (25) are still viewed by many as promising youngsters.

Yet Ben Stokes - not 19 until next week - has overtaken them in a matter of weeks this season.

The old man of the team, 36-year-old opener Di Venuto, is impatient to see "career-defining performances" from those left behind, starting with the County Championship match at bottomof-the-table Warwickshire which starts today. "People are getting chances which some of them haven't had before through injuries or loss of form," noted Di Venuto. "People have got to grab their chances with both hands.

"Ben Stokes is the only one who has really stepped up. He's a unique talent. It's disappointing some of the blokes haven't provided career-defining performances.

"There's a lot of players who've been called 'young' since I've been at Durham, and I've been here four seasons now."

Topping the Riversiders' Championship batting averages with an impressive 66, Stokes has been a revelation.

The Cockermouth-raised all-rounder became the second-youngest Championship centurion in Durham's history, following it with another hundred in his next innings, before showing his character with a quickfire 50 batting on one leg in a fruitless attempt to save this week's home game against Kent.

In some ways, the hard-hitting teenager reminds former Australian one-day international Di Venuto of himself.

"Stokes is an 18-year-old with no scars from the past," he observed. "It's a pretty good place to be. I can remember being in that situation at the same age.

"The majority of slightly older players have been through a dip in form and have memories of that. …

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