Geoff Cook continues to make “steady progress” following a heart attack. His side is in even more robust health – and Jon Lewis believes that bodes well for their latest challenge.
Durham have lost just four games this summer in all competitions and only one in their last 10.
Crucially, given that tonight sees the start of their Friends Life T20 campaign, they have also won their last four in the YB40 format and top their qualifying group.
So with Paul Collingwood captaining as Lancashire Lightning visit the Emirates ICG this evening (5.30pm), Lewis – who has stepped up from second-team coaching duties in head coach Cook’s absence – says the Dynamos are aiming to sustain their recent fine form with no little confidence.
He said: “We’re looking forward to it, we’re in good form and we’ve had a good week of preparation.
“The second team had a game on Monday, which two of the guys wanted to use as practice on specific T20 skills, and then we had two days’ general practice. Then Stephen Harmison had his T20 benefit game on Wednesday, which although it was a benefit match we were able to take a look at.
“We’re taking in good white-ball form from the 40-over stuff, which is good.
“We haven’t picked an XI as such but the (YB40) one-day side’s doing well and I’d expect that to form the bedrock of the T20, with many or most of the guys performing similar roles as well, because they’re executing pretty well.
“So yeah, it’s good to have confidence and be feeling good about white-ball cricket.
“It’s good to be winning games, that’s absolutely paramount.
“In the second team we do try to focus on winning just because it’s a habit the club has got into, having had some years when we weren’t in that habit.
“I think it’s a habit that we need to keep within the whole club.
“In the seconds we have a leaning towards making sure that winning was a priority, if not the only one.
“In the first team, winning becomes even more of a priority.” Though Mark Stoneman has made an excellent fist of captaining the Dynamos in 40-over cricket this summer, he has only ever played in three first-class 20-over games.
Given that lack of experience set against Collingwood’s, who led England to the World Twenty20 in 2010, Lewis explained the latter – who also skippers the county four-day side – was the obvious choice to take the T20 reins.
He added: “We’re lucky enough to have a guy who’s won a T20 World Cup, we’re not going to pass that up,” he said, welcoming Ben Stokes back from international T20 duty – though Graham Onions is with England. He’s keen and, although I think Mark would have been happy to do it, he hasn’t played a lot of T20 cricket.
“ He hasn’t really been in our T20 side before, so he wasn’t looking to do it.
“His white-ball stuff’s going really well, his one-day captaincy is going really well. It is probably not a bad plan if Paul does it and Mark, I’m sure, will be in the side learning a lot.
“We’re very fortunate, with the two guys captaining – Mark’s really growing into the role very quickly, making a real good fist of it and getting better every week. Paul’s very experienced and knows exactly what he’s doing.”
Durham (from): Mark Stoneman, Phil Mustard (wkt), Scott Borthwick, Paul Collingwood (c), Gordon Muchall, Will Smith, Ben Stokes, Ryan Pringle, Mark Wood, Chris Rushworth, Max Morley, Callum Thorp, Jamie Harrison.