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Ashton Turner has greater appreciation of sporting pride in region

Ashton Turner has greater appreciation of sporting pride in region
Ashton Turner has greater appreciation of sporting pride in region

Durham’s new Vitality Blast captain Ashton Turner got an early taste of life in the north-east after he got caught in Sunderland’s League One play-off final celebrations after recently arriving in the country.

Turner arrived in Durham last week from Australia to lead the club in the T20 competition, having guided Perth Scorchers to success in the 2021/22 Big Bash League campaign.

After visiting his new team-mates in London during their LV= Insurance County Championship match against Middlesex, Turner found himself in the thick of the Sunderland fan celebrations after jumping on the same train heading back north following their Wembley triumph over Wycombe Wanderers.

Now armed with a greater appreciation of sporting pride in the region, Turner is determined to lead Durham to success for the first time a Vitality Blast campaign.

“It was an interesting experience for me as we caught the train home from London with a whole bunch of Sunderland fans,” he said.

“I’ve had my eyes opened to the world of football and people from Sunderland! At the end of the day, I’ve come here with a job to do.

“I’m going to try and take in as much of the culture as I can, but at the end of the day it’s a job. Our job on the field is to win trophies.

“We’re really confident that we have the right personnel to be able to win the trophy this year along with some amazing support staff. We’re looking to build on some limited success over the last few years, and there is a lot to work with. We can’t wait to be out there playing.

“I haven’t played in this part of the world before. I was advised to pack plenty of jumpers and I’ve enjoyed my first week in the North East. County cricket is always a competition that I’ve kept an eye on from afar.

“I aspired to be a part of it and I’m thankful for the opportunity from Durham and to be a part of this year. I cannot wait to get started.”

Turner’s swashbuckling style of play has caught the eye in the Big Bash during the Scorchers’ march to the BBL title, notably in the final when he scored a half-century in their win over the Sydney Sixers.

The 29-year-old has admitted that he and the rest of cricket feel a sense of duty to the game to ensure the next generation are captivated by the sport, especially in the light of the pandemic that prevented crowds attending for a portion of the last two seasons.

“Without a doubt it’s an important issue,” he added. “Players more than ever before know that the game has taken a bit of a hit over the last couple of years due to the restrictions placed on cricket during the pandemic we often played in front of no crowds.

“As a result, everyone in the cricketing community has been affected. We as players feel a massive sense of responsibility to put on a good show and try to get everyone back into cricket grounds, and give them a good product on the field.

“At this stage of the tournament we’re all full of confidence. It is a busy start to the schedule, there’s no rest for the wicked. As we know in T20 cricket it is a game of momentum, hopefully we can start our campaign on the front foot and get some early wins under our belt.”

Durham begin their Blast campaign with a three-game stretch on the road. They travel to Leicestershire Foxes on Thursday night before visiting Northamptonshire Steelbacks and Birmingham Bears.

Durham's home opener is against Worcestershire Rapids at the Riverside on June 1.

You can book your Vitality Blast tickets and join the 20th season celebrations, via this link: https://www.ecb.co.uk/t20-blast/tickets