Neil Killeen Interview - Durham Looking For Good Start

Last year Durham claimed their first major piece of silverware by winning the Friends Provident Trophy, and with a new county season fast approaching Cricket World’s Aaron Kumar spoke to Durham’s experienced seam bowler, Neil Killeen. Killeen talks to Cricket World® about the historic Friends Provident triumph, his views on Durham’s prospects in the forthcoming county season and the most prized wicket of his career. Would you say that winning the Friends Provident trophy with Durham was one of the highlights of your career? Without a doubt, to actually win something with Durham after being there for 16 seasons was a fantastic day. You must have relished the atmosphere of playing in a Lords Final? Yeah it was a fantastic event and to go to Lords and have as many followers from Durham as we did was fantastic. They really gave us great support and that gives you a buzz when you walk out onto the field. Durham have recently produced many England players, the likes of Steve Harmison, Paul Collingwood, Liam Plunkett and Phil Mustard. How much of a lift does that give the county? And how beneficial have you found their international experience in the dressing room? It does give the county a great lift to see that the system is working, that the academy system which has brought these players through is producing players for England. As for their experience in the dressing room, we very rarely see them, once they succeed in an England dressing room, they don’t tend to be around so often in a Durham dressing room. When they are there, then it does add a little bit of experience into our team and obviously they will improve the performance as well. What are your thoughts ahead of the forthcoming county season from Durham’s perspective? I think it’s going to be a tough season. A lot of sides are going to target Durham as the side to beat this year after the performances that we had last year. With losing Ottis Gibson and the fact that we are not sure which International players we will have available, it’s going to be a tough season throughout but we have got a strong squad, the guys have worked hard this winter and so far they are looking really good. I understand that you went over to the MRF academy in India, what was the purpose of your time at the academy? And what do you think of its set up? I was working as the lead coach with a group of the young England bowlers out there. It’s the first time that I had been exposed to working out there. They have got some high status with having Dennis Lillee involved and they have brought quite a lot of bowlers through their academy system. I think the main benefit for our guys was that they can get out there, they can pick up on the experience of Dennis and from that they are then able to have the experience of bowling outdoors a lot earlier than they would being over in England in an indoor school. it was good for them to get out there and work on run ups and things that they can’t do over here. Ottis Gibson had a tremendous season for Durham last year. How much of an inspiration was it for you to see someone perform so well, so late in their career? I think it was a massive inspiration, especially for some of the younger guys to see Ottis performing at the age that he was, is a testament to himself and a testament to his professionalism. He works as hard as anybody, he’s always willing to go into the gym and do the right things. I think what he did is, he dragged some of the youngsters along with him last year, he made them do things in the gym, do their warm downs, it was great to see him have success and its led to him going on and becoming the England bowling coach. Who is the most prized wicket of your career to date? I would have to say my first first-class wicket which was Carl Hooper. I made my debut in 1995 against the West Indies, that was a pretty special wicket for me and my first championship wicket was Allan Lamb. I think he was on 97 at the time and he needed three to score 100 against every county and he didn’t do it, so that was a pretty special wicket. Over the years all my wickets are prize wickets, but those two are two that stick in my mind really. How confident are you of winning some silverware with Durham this season? After last season we have got to be very confident, of winning something, like I say we have got a very good squad. I think we have got a bowling attack second to none in the country and I think that is something that will stand us in good stead. We obviously need to get off to a good start, but if we do then, who knows what we can win. It would be nice to perform a little bit better in the Twenty20. What are your personal goals for this season? My personal goals are really just to enjoy the game as much as what I did last year, but to play as much cricket as I possibly can. There is a role up for grabs with Ottis moving on, so if I can establish that four day role as well as my one day role, then that would be my main aim for this year to play a lot more four day cricket. Neil Killeen made his Durham debut in 1995 and has played 338 matches for the county while also representing the MCC and Combined University side in his career. He has taken some 572 wickets and also represented England Under-19s in five youth ODIs in 1995. © Cricket World 2008
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