It’s been pretty full on for five or six weeks from our preparations for Abu Dhabi to last week’s game against Somerset, so it’s been nice to have a few days’ break after that game.
But we haven’t got too relaxed and comfortable because we’ve been preparing hard for the big game this weekend, a home County Championship match against our local rivals, Yorkshire.
It’s always a great game against Yorkshire and I’m sure this one will be no different.
Having played in front of a big crowd at Scarborough when we last met in what was virtually a 2013 title decider, we’re hoping for a good turnout at Chester-le-Street.
We all know how tough it’s going to be and they have a very strong side, which last week was led by England batsman Joe Root.
Whether he and others feature will depend on who is in the England squad for next month’s friendly against Scotland.
I’m sure Yorkshire will want to bounce back after this week’s game against Middlesex, where the London outfit chased down a mammoth total of 472 to win. Australian opener Chris Rogers was the main man with an unbeaten 241.
It was their first defeat of the season.
So no doubt the Yorkies will be fired up to come and grab maximum points from us.
But we will also have an extra spring in our step as we have one of the world’s all-time greats available.
Sri Lankan Kumar Sangakarra will be making his debut for us.
He’s ranked as the second-best batsman in Test cricket and his last game saw him put in a man-of-the-match performance as Sri Lanka won the World Twenty20 a few weeks ago.
After lots of rumour and speculation it was fantastic to hear the news of his signature on Monday. He arrived on Tuesday and was straight in the nets with the boys on Wednesday morning.
He will only be with us for a short stint, playing against Yorkshire and Sussex before joining up with his country ready for the matches with England.
My first impression after meeting the guy yesterday was that he seems like a champion bloke and he is very, very keen to get underwear in Durham colours!
He just looks like a class act.
Even after only seeing him in the nets once so far this week you can tell he is a great player and I’m sure I speak for most, if not everyone in our dressing room when I wish him all the very best for his few weeks with us.
I wrote last week about how keen I was to pick Ryan Sidebottom’s brain next week, and I’m sure our batsmen will be doing the same with Kumar.
I hope he settles in quickly, and we’ll look forward to watching him spend a lot of time in the middle.
I’M a third of the way through my charity challenge of staying “dry” in 2014, and Saturday night sees my first major fund-raising event.
I’m hosting a Q&A session at the Emirates ICG with former England and Durham fast bowler Steve Harmsion and former England and current Yorkshire bowler Ryan Sidebottom.
Tickets are still available to buy for the evening at the club reception, or by contacting firstname.lastname@example.org, priced at £20, including food.
All proceeds are going to my two chosen charities, PCA Benevolent Fund and Save the Children. Please come along and show your support to these two fantastic causes. It should be a really entertaining evening.
I also want to say a big thanks to everyone who reads this column and hope you all enjoy it. A special thank you must go to Adam Heather, who gave me some good feedback last week and is probably North East cricket’s only other non-drinker!
Here’s to eight more dry months for myself and thanks for everyone’s continued support.