JAMIE Harrison can still scarcely believe his luck after going from hunter to hunted in the autograph stakes.
Born in Lancashire, the 21-year-old bowler (pictured right) was raised in Cumbria as a Durham fan.
Today he is celebrating his first professional contract for the county.
Opener Keaton Jennings has been similarly rewarded, while 37-year-old Callum Thorp has agreed a one-year extension.
Durham are waiting to hear if wicket-keeper Michael Richardson accepts their offer to stay.
Harrison’s one-year deal is reward for a promising start to first-team cricket, making three first-class and two list A appearances before a stress fracture of the shin ended his 2012 campaign early. He said: “It’s what I’ve been working for since I started playing cricket.
“I remember the first time I went to watch Durham as a kid, against Kent. I was about ten and I got my photo taken with the mascot.
“I still joke around with the lads because I had a signature bat with names like Gareth Breese and Liam Plunkett on it.
“The CB40 game against Somerset in May was probably the first time somebody asked me for my autograph. It was a surreal moment.”
Harrison was one of the few highlights of a disappointing first half of the campaign, but suffered shin problems for the second season running after unrelated shin splints in 2011.
He added: “It was great to have that first experience of first-class cricket. It is easy to mope around but you have to take the positives. These are things you are going to have as a cricketer.
“It was a mental test and it’s given me even more hunger to succeed.
“It’s probably one of the best things which could have happened to me.”
Jennings, South African-born but hoping to qualify for England, has signed a two-year deal.
The top-order batsman impressed in a late-season run in the side but, like compatriot Richardson, did not have time to prove he can be the long-term replacement for the retired Michael Di Venuto. The Riversiders will therefore continue searching for an overseas batsman.
They hope to persuade reserve wicketkeeper Richardson he can get the regular first-team cricket he craves as a specialist batsman.