Durham to play in Zimbabwe’s domestic T20 competition to prepare for T20 Blast
UK: Durham will compete in Zimbabwe’s domestic T20 competition in March as part of their preparations for the 2024 season.
The squad will fly out to Harare on February 19 and play two three-day warm-up fixtures before taking part in the T20 competition alongside domestic sides Lions, Mountaineers, Mid-West Rhinos, Matabeleland Tuskers, Southern Rocks and defending champions Mashonaland Eagles from March 3-9.
Durham previously visited Zimbabwe on tour in 2020 and 2023, winning all six matches across the formats on the latter visit.
Director of cricket, Marcus North, said: “The opportunity to play in Zimbabwe’s domestic tournament is really exciting. This will provide the whole squad with some good quality Vitality Blast match practice which we wouldn’t be able to replicate back in Durham.”
Speaking to The Cricketer, red-ball captain Scott Borthwick added: “It’s going to give us some experience and time to learn the brand of cricket we want to play, so that’ll be brilliant.”
Head coach Ryan Campbell has not held back in his assessments of Durham’s white-ball cricket [Stu Forster/Getty Images]
Batter Graham Clark believes Durham have “underachieved” in the Blast [Dan Mullan/Getty Images]
T20 cricket has long been a problem area for Durham, who are one of five counties still searching for a maiden Blast crown.
In 21 editions of the competition, they have reached Finals Day just twice – losing to Northamptonshire by four wickets in the final on their most recent trip in 2016 – and have only reached the knockout stages six times.
Speaking ahead of the 2023 season, head coach Ryan Campbell did not hold back in his assessment of Durham’s white-ball form, labelling it “horrible” and promising change.
“I think they’ve got into some bad habits and their white-ball cricket has been horrible, that’s the honest truth,” he said.
“What have Durham lacked in the past? Probably some power-hitting. Everyone here will say, ‘Yeh, but the grounds so big’. It is big, so you power hitters need to be power hitters. New captain, different philosophy, different bowlers, different batters.”
However, while he masterminded a turnaround in fortunes in the County Championship – Durham topped Division Two by 66 points – their T20 woes remained as they finished seventh in the North Group, failing to progress beyond the group stages for a fifth consecutive season.
“We struggled with injuries with the ball, we didn’t have a settled attack, and we struggled to defend totals, struggled to contain sides in the powerplay. And we had quite an inexperienced attack,” assessed batter Graham Clark.
“We started off really well, played some really good cricket, and unfortunately, we had a few injuries and a few England callups, so we weren’t at full strength.
“It’s hard to be satisfied when you don’t make quarter-finals or finish high up in the group. It’s a big focus this winter. We’ve underachieved in T20s now for more years than we have in red ball. It’s the next part of the jigsaw we’ve got to get right.”