MICHAEL Richardson believes Paul Collingwood has turned Durham from a group of individuals into a real team.
The former England white-ball captain took over as the Riversiders’ four-day skipper halfway through last season. It transformed a team bottom of the County Championship First Division into one which equalled a club record for consecutive wins.
Richardson’s first Championship appearance of 2012 came in Collingwood’s maiden game as captain – although a hand injury meant he had to lead from the sidelines at Worcester.
When Richardson returned to the team later in the season, the contrast was marked. “It was two completely different sides,” he said. “I’m not finger-pointing at all but I’m sure there were a few doubts creeping in at the time about where we were going to finish.
“It seemed like the best we could hope for was just avoiding relegation but by the end we were almost looking up.” Predecessor Phil Mustard was and still is a popular dressing-room figure, but Richardson believes Collingwood’s international pedigree gave him an aura.
“He did bring a presence and I mean absolutely no disrespect to Phil, he was his own kind of man. He was almost a leader of the lads,” said Richardson, who hopes to reinvent himself from reserve wicketkeeper to specialist top-order batsman next season.
“But Colly did bring confidence to the side and maybe a bit of direction. Maybe before he came in we were a bit of a team of individuals, I don’t know. Worcester was a turning point.”
Durham’s second team fixtures were announced yesterday, with a Twenty20 game against England Under-19s at Brandon the highlight.