PAUL Collingwood makes his first Durham appearance of 2012 tomorrow, two months ahead of schedule.
The former England limited-overs captain was expected to miss the entire first half of the County Championship season.
Now he is set to face Yorkshire in a two-day pre-season friendly, starting at Chester-le-Street at 11am tomorrow.
Collingwood planned to spend his winter and spring playing Twenty20 cricket. But after indifferent form in Australia and South Africa, Indian Premier League side Rajasthan Royals have reportedly cancelled his contract. Collingwood signed a two-year contract with the Royals, but missed the 2011 campaign through injury. Now they have apparently decided against taking the all-rounder this season.
While a massive financial blow to Collingwood, it is a huge boost to Durham.
They do not allow players to sign IPL deals, but Collingwood was centrally contracted to England in 2011.
He was part of the Perth Scorchers side who reached the final of Australia’s Big Bash this year, but averaged 16 with the bat and did not take a wicket.
His spell as captain of Impi in South Africa was unsuccessful personally and collectively. Dale Benkenstein takes a rest tomorrow, with Mark Stoneman, Will Smith and Gordon Muchall hoping to build on impressive pre-season form. Ian Blackwell is not involved, after his century for the MCC against Lancashire in Dubai.
Ruel Brathwaite makes his first appearance this year in an attack featuring Stephen Harmison. Durham are offering free admission and tours of the ground on both days from 11am until 4pm.
DURHAM (from): Di Venuto, Smith, Stoneman, Collingwood, Stokes, Muchall, Mustard (capt, wk), Borthwick, Plunkett, Harmison, Brathwaite, Breese, Raine.