James Franklin backs regional pride to bring glory back to Durham

DURHAM’S new lead high performance coach James Franklin is predicting an exciting future as the club begins a new era with a fresh identity.

The north-east club rebranded as Durham Cricket this week
with a new logo and an update of the county crest.

The announcement came in Franklin’s first week at
Chester-le-Street and he is optimistic about what the club can achieve.

Indeed, the former New Zealand international all-rounder
knows a few things about winning trophies after lifting the County Championship
in 2016 with Middlesex before his retirement.

Speaking to The Cricket Paper, Franklin said: “There is no
doubt that it has been a challenging couple of years. There’s been a few
changes. But I’m really excited about what the next couple of years could hold
for us as a playing group.”

Durham have endured a challenging few years. Relegated from
Division One of the County Championship at the end of 2016 over financial
issues, they started life in Division Two with a deduction of 48 points and
also lost the right to stage Test cricket at the Riverside.

Since then, they have lost Keaton Jennings and Graham Onions
to Lancashire, while stalwart Paul Collingwood retired at the end of last
season.

Franklin, though, believes his squad has plenty of
potential: “Looking at the playing group, obviously there’s been a few senior
players leave. A couple of guys retired [but] what’s left over is an exciting
group of young cricketers mixed in with some still very good senior players.

“Chris Rushworth has been an outstanding performer in county
cricket for a number of years. We have Michael Richardson, Will Smith, Nathan
Rimmington joined the club last year from Australia and Alex Lees has moved up
Yorkshire. So, there’s a group of senior players.

“But then you’ve got some really exciting talent underneath
who are wanting to make their mark on first-class cricket and hopefully they’ll
show people over the next couple of years how good they are and the potential
that they have to really turn in good contributions for Durham Cricket.

“So, it’s a great opportunity to come and have a fresh
start, a new era with Durham Cricket and really see if we can make some good
progress with this group.”

Durham moved over the winter to award new contracts or
extensions to many of those younger players. Franklin believes it bodes well
that so many younger players wanted to commit their future to the county.

“That’s the thing about this north east area of England.
They’re very proud people that are community orientated. They want to put back
into their local community whether it’s sport or business and that’s even the
case with the young players.

“They’re proud of their region and want to commit to their
local team.

“So, it’s up to us to identify what brand of cricket we want
to play for the local people here and what sits well with us and we’ll work
that out over the next few weeks.

“It’s still early days for me and I’m still trying to get to
know the guys, but they’re all excited about playing for a proud club which has
had a very good recent history except for the last couple of years.”

Cameron Bancroft
Incoming overseas star: Australian batsman Cameron Bancroft will be available for Durham in all formats during the 2019 season. Photo: Getty Images

Australian batsman Cameron Bancroft will join up with the squad shortly as overseas player. The opener has recently returned to action Down Under following his nine-month ball-tampering ban.

Franklin, who has been doing some coaching work with
Brisbane Heat in the Big Bash, caught up with Bancroft in Australia and was
impressed by what he saw.

“What I saw in the Big Bash, he was playing exceptionally
well and he’s obviously started the Sheffield Shield outstandingly well,
getting a hundred and an eighty in the same game this week.

“He was extremely enthusiastic about coming over here to
Durham. Excited about really contributing and trying to lead the batting group
when he gets here. So, hopefully he does well at the back end of the Australian
season and he brings that over here to Durham to start our summer.”

Franklin’s thoughts turn now to preparations for the club’s
opening game against Derbyshire next month: “We’ve got two and half weeks now
training indoors.

“Then we’re going to South Africa for 12 days where we’ve
got a couple of warm-up games against Nottinghamshire and Yorkshire. So that’s
obviously a really important time outside.”

Commenting on Franklin’s appointment, director of cricket,
Marcus North said: “Following an extensive recruitment process it became clear
that James was by far the best fit.

“I am extremely excited for James’ arrival and look forward
to working with him during this new chapter for Durham Cricket.”

Chief executive Tim Bostock said: “We’re delighted that
James has joined us and I firmly believe he has the skills and cricket
experience to drive this club forward.”

“The new coaching structure, which includes Neil Killeen and
Alan Walker will give the club clearer direction and we’re delighted with the
work we have done during the winter.”

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