GEOFF Cook believes the chemistry between Paul Collingwood and the Durham dressing room was crucial to keeping him in it for another three years.
The 35-year-old hassigned a contract extension at Chester-le-Street, snubbing the advances of Derbyshire’s sugar daddies.
Collingwood returned to the Durham ranks after 300 appearances in all forms of the international game, captaining his country in 50 and 20-over cricket.
With centrally- contracted England players strangers to their counties, some have found the transition back to their roots hard – and Collingwood had doubts before doing so.
However, the reaction to his team-mates and vice-versa has persuaded him to play on with Durham.
Coach Geoff Cook said: “The way he has come into the dressing room has been fantastic.
“He has not come in with any grandiose ideas of international cricket, there has been no semblance of ‘I know, I am better’.
“He has been brilliant, he has integrated into it very well, done it in a very sensitive way and he has passed on information, advice and support as best he could.
“I am sure his influence over the next two years is going to be really beneficial to the club as they try to continue with the theme of a winning team or a changing team.”
Just as importantly, the dressing room has embraced him.
Cook added: “Even when he was with England everyone was following his scores.
“He has always been a really popular lad in the area and the confines of the dressing room.”
With Dale Benkenstein and Michael Di Venuto both nearing the end at 37, Collingwood and Stephen Harmison will soon have to take over as the leaders of the team, though Cook sees the all-rounder more as a senior pro than captain.
He said: “I think he has had his share of responsibility, he just wants to play serious cricket and assist whenever he can.
“It is a slight transitional stage for us with one or two young players coming through and we need to bring one or two more in the next year or two. He is going to play a vital role in that.”
Collingwood made his Durham debut in 1996, and has played 122 first-class matches for the Riversiders.