Newspaper article The Journal (Newcastle, England)

Moment of Truth Arrives for Durham

Newspaper article The Journal (Newcastle, England)

Moment of Truth Arrives for Durham

Article excerpt

Byline: Stuart Rayner

FOR the third time in five years, Durham go into the final week of a County Championship season in contention to lift the title.

They are third favourites this time, but considering they already had the trophy in the bag in 2009, it is some consistency. Coach Geoff Cook (pictured below) thinks it is a sign of the quality of his squad, and a tribute to its less experienced players, that they host Worcestershire today in a familiar situation.

"We've played with a consistency for the last few years and the lads who play for Durham have to be congratulated for that," he said. "Sometimes winning tournaments is out of your hands, but it's important to keep yourself in contention.

"There's an achievement level and that leads to a belief. You can create a certain ambience around the squad.

"Our experienced players have led the way and other people are now climbing into those shoes. Philip Mustard has been superb this season and Graham Onions has been a real inspiration the way he has come back from injury."

The 2008 and 2009 champions are 15 points behind leaders Warwickshire, who are at Hampshire, and 13 adrift of Lancashire, at Somerset.

With 16 points for a win and eight bonus points available, anything is possible in a season which has been littered with upsets.

"The whole season had been a tale of inconsistency, either results-wise of performance-wise," said Cook. "Worcestershire have got things to play for (they are not safe from relegation) and we've got to play hard and see where it takes us. We can't worry too much about the Lancashire and Warwickshire results."

Durham's last outing, at Sussex, ended a run of four matches without victory. It was all the more gratifying because the decisive contributions did not come from the usual suspects.

"When we had chances to win games four or six weeks ago you were hoping the experienced players would come to the fore but they're not machines," said Cook. …

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