Tuesday 15 January 2008 

Durham To Boast World Class Batting Line-Up In 2008

Durham County Cricket Club have announced that for the 2008 season, they will be able to call on the services of international batsmen past and present Michael Di Venuto, Shivnarine Chanderpaul, Neil McKenzie and Albie Morkel.

Chanderpaul, who had a brief spell with the county in 2007, has signed as their overseas player and while he is on tour with the West Indies Durham will utilise Neil McKenzie, who recently made a return to the Proteas' Test side and current South African one-day international and Twenty20 all-rounder Albie Morkel.

Chanderpaul, currently in South Africa with his national side, said, "Durham is a Club with a big future and after the success we had last year we are definitely keen to start the season as we finished.

"I’ll be keeping an eye on the results while I’m on tour and I can’t wait to join up with the team later on in the year."

Di Venuto, who scored over 1300 first class runs in 2007, has announced he will retire from Australia domestic cricket in order to be able to play for Durham as a non-overseas player under his Italian passport.

The Australian, who played nine one-day internationals for his country explained, "It was a big step for me to announce my retirement from Australian domestic cricket but I was keen to extend my time at Durham, especially after such a wonderful season last year.

"I’m delighted to be in a position to commit to the Club for two more years, as it really is a wonderful Club to be involved with and my first season here was definitely a happy one. I can’t wait to get back to defend our title!"

McKenzie, capped 42 times by his country in Tests, and used by Somerset in the close season, added, "It’s a great opportunity for me to experience cricket at Durham, especially after their success in 2007. I’m looking forward to helping to get them off to a great start in both the Friend Provident Trophy and the LV County Championship."

Morkel, who will arrive in time for the ECB Twenty20 Cup, will look to use his experience at international level, having been capped 17 times in limited overs cricket to Durham's advantage:

"I really want to make an impact on Durham’s Twenty20 Cup campaign and I’m sure my experience in the World Cup will be really useful. There will be some pretty tough opposition but I’m looking forward to the challenge."

Durham Head Coach Geoff Cook said, "It’s wonderful for the Club to have secured the services of such wonderful batsmen for our 2008 campaign. Diva and Shiv have both made invaluable contributions to the team and we’re keen to start where we left off and their involvement will be a great asset.

"They have both had a tremendous influence on the team, both on and off the field, and it will be a great honour to welcome them back to the Riverside.

"To have players of Neil and Albie’s calibre committing to the Durham cause is a great achievement. We are determined to improve our performance in the Twenty20 Cup and I think Albie will be a great asset to our set up. I’m sure Neil’s involvement in the early stages of the season will get us off to the best possible start in 2008."