Potts promises more Bazball and title ambition from all-action Durham

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<p><figcaption class=Graham Clark and Matthew Potts (right) rest on beanbags during Durham’s photo shoot for the new County Championship season.Photo: Stu Forster/Getty Images

When Matthew Potts announced in March last year that Durham were going to Bazball their way through the County Championship, it raised a few misplaced eyebrows. A draw, he said, was worse than a loss. “You’d rather lose every game this year and know you’re doing it with the right intention.” Yes, very nice dear.

But, it turned out, he was right on the money. Durham moved to the Division Two title in 2023, beating second-placed Worcestershire by 66 points, amassing more batting points than ever before in the bottom tier, at a rollicking rate, and pushing for seven wins on their chest. He was the human face of Bazball – very successful and with a nicer smile.

Related: Jason Holder to join Worcestershire in attempt to return to West Indies Test

So it would be foolish not to listen to what Potts has to say a year later. “What’s the point of getting promoted if you’re not going to try to win the big one?” he says with a straight face. “So we’re going to try to win it.

“That’s the difference between good teams and great teams: you see it with the test team. If they have a bad game, they will approach the next Test in the same way. That’s what makes great teams. They don’t back down or change their tactics just because of one loss or setback. Yes, the season could be a bit more turbulent than last year because everything went really well for us, but if it doesn’t work out, we’ll try to take the bull by the horns.”

If Durham collect the penny in September, they will have achieved what only two other teams – Nottinghamshire in 2005 and Essex in 2017 – have achieved since the inception of the two-division championship, winning immediately after promotion. get. First, however, they will have to beat Surrey, out to collect their third championship on the trot, and with the added incentive of Alec Stewart’s departure from his hit-the-gym-at-6am-head-of-cricket role at the . the end of the season.

There should be stiff competition from Essex, who lost to Alastair Cook but gained Dean Elgar; Lancashire, who have secured the services of Nathan Lyon for at least the first part of the season; and Hampshire, if their three fast bowlers can keep up that impressive level of service into their late thirties.

But Potts is no rogue hopeful outlier. It’s a cold morning at Chester-le-Street but nothing, not even a photo of the team in short-sleeved shirts, will dampen Durham’s spirits.

For Ryan Campbell, the West Australian coach who came to the north east via the Netherlands and Hong Kong, cricket should be about joy. “I make it very clear to our players that when someone walks out of a game at Durham they should be leaving: ‘Gee, I’m glad I went today, I saw some great cricket, I saw smiling faces, I saw I am the best of what English cricket can do.’

“It’s a bit difficult for me to say I’m an Aussie but I’ve invested, my family lives here, my kids go to school here, they have an English accent, which really motivates me. If we play the brand of cricket I know we can, we can do great things this year.”

Like England’s Brendon McCullum, Campbell’s impact was almost instant after he took over in January last year. Not that it was without doubt. “When you’re a new coach, you hope the players don’t think you’re full of shit. You can say certain things but they have to believe in what you are doing.

“I knew I had them when we played our second game against Worcestershire. We lost our first game but on the fourth morning they came to me and said we are going to confirm aren’t we? He was like, oooh are we?” He went home and told his wife Durham that they were going to win Division Two. “What about you?” she replied.

But after the success of last year, no one in Division One will do the value of Durham, whose squad – including the English hope Potts, Brydon Carse and the wicketkeeper Ollie Robinson, and the current top scorers Alex Lees and David Bedingham – promoted by Melbourne England. nemesis Scott Boland, and Colin Ackermann and Callum Parkinson from Leicestershire. And that’s before you throw Mark Wood or Ben Stokes into the equation.

And if the chief executive, Tim Bostock, has offended county members by calling them “Luddites” for opposing private equity, others have been impressed by Durham’s efforts to bid for one of the eight sides. professional women’s league one to be held in England and It has been announced by the Wales Cricket Board.

Durham wants to be the best, in the women’s game, in the white ball, in the championship, a shining light for the whole north east. Their first red ball game kicks off on Friday at Chester-le-Street, when Hampshire visit. Don’t look out.

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