Durham can still take the Championship title

It has not been a great last seven days or so for North East sport with lots of excitement ultimately ending in disappointment

The Emirates Durham International Cricket Ground
The Emirates Durham International Cricket Ground

It has not been a great last seven days or so for North East sport with lots of excitement ultimately ending in disappointment.

Both Premier League football teams were beaten in their opening fixtures and Durham lost both our 40-over games, so in the space of just over a week we have gone from top of our group to a position where we can no longer qualify for the knockout stages.

But the great thing about sport is that a chance to put things right normally comes along pretty quickly.

Four good days of cricket at Chester- le-Street this week will put Durham right back into the frame for the biggest prize the county game has to offer – the Championship title.

With only one game to go in the YB40 (at home to Surrey on Monday), we know we will be unable even to get enough points to reach the last four as even the best second-placed side in our group.

It is disappointing we were unable to make it to the semi-finals of either white- ball competition, but if you look at some of the cricket we have played in those formats you have to say it has been a fairly successful season. It is the best one- day team I’ve been involved in during my short time at Durham and it is a young, pretty inexperienced side so there are some exciting times ahead and hopefully a trophy or two to be won.

But for what is left of this season we have no excuses to not give our full focus to the County Championship, the competition we won in 2008 and 2009.

To look at the league table, you might think our chances in the four-day competition are pretty slim too. With five- and-a-half weeks of the season left we are fourth, 25.5 points behind leaders Yorkshire. But in the Championship you can get up to 24 points for a win, and we have a game in hand on Yorkshire and Middlesex, and two on Sussex – the team they are sandwiching.

We play Yorkshire once and Sussex twice in our last six games, as well as Surrey and Derbyshire, who are both in the relegation zone.

The first of those games starts at home to Surrey tomorrow.

It won’t be easy, with Surrey announcing last week that their latest superstar overseas signing – South African batsman Hashim Amla – is going to make his debut in Chester-le- Street. But they will be without Chris Tremlett if he makes his England return at The Oval this morning.

In our last four-day outing we under- performed against Middlesex so I’m sure everyone will be hungry to get back to winning ways and try and catch up the teams above us.

It was this time of the year last season when we went on an amazing run of form, equalling a club record for most consecutive Championship wins, so hopefully we can do something similar this time round and finish off the season on a massive high.

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