Durham’s Conveyor Belt of Fast Bowlers
Updated: May 17
Even the County Championship’s youngest First Class County Durham is now very much part of the furniture.
In 1992, Durham joined England's elite competitions and since then have gone on to win three Championship titles and a further two One Day trophies. Not a bad haul.
Since their inception they’ve also produced a number of England internationals too: Paul Collingwood, Keaton Jennings, Phil Mustard, Alex Lees, Mark Stoneman and Graham Onions have all come through the ranks at Durham.
Beyond the names mentioned above, Durham also has a very close association with fast bowling.
Far from being a county which prepared bowling for life on green seamers - Durham has picked up a habit of producing bowlers perfectly set up to take wickets on fast, dry, bouncy tracks like Perth or Bridgetown.
Steve Harmison was the first of this line of players who burst onto the scene with England in the summer of 2002 - Harmison was genuinely quick and it was clear very quickly that Durham had discovered a real diamond. With Darren Gough coming to the end of his international career when Harmison arrived on the scene, there was a space in the bowling line up.
Harmison warming up for Durham in 2010
(Photo credit: PaulSh is licensed under CC BY-NC-ND 2.0.)
Over his career, England championed pace bowling, with Harmison playing alongside Andrew Flintoff and Simon Jones in the 2005 Ashes - it was a quick attack.
It was in 2005 though that another pacer from Durham came into contention too in the form of Liam Plunkett.
Plunkett was more raw and ill-refined compared to Harmison but the talent was there, ultimately it took a move from Durham to Yorkshire for Plunkett to regain his form with the ball and fight his way back into the England line up and, at his pinnacle, played in the 2019 World Cup Final which England won. It was Durham though that taught Plunkett his cricket.
The next cab off the rank came in the form of Mark Wood after making his England debut in 2015 against New Zealand. Wood played alongside Plunkett in the 2019 World Cup Final but was/is seen by the selectors to have the ability to play in all 3 formats. Coincidentally, Wood also came from Ashington, the same town and club that Steve Harmison represented growing up.
Mark Wood is considered to be the fastest of the lot and even now, despite batting injuries and into his early 30s, he is considered to be one of the fastest bowlers on the planet.
Seemingly though, the production line is still going though and Durham are still producing fast bowling talent for the England side.
Last year, Brydon Carse made his ODI debut in the covid-hit series against Pakistan. Ben Stokes may not be as fast as the other bowlers mentioned but is certainly no slouch and finally, England’s latest call up in Matty Potts who has shown already to be of a pace that county players find tricky.
Northern counties in general - particularly Yorkshire and Lancashire - do have a great reputation as being hubs for genuine fast bowling, just look through some of the greats: Fred Truman (Yorkshire), Brian Statham (Lancashire), Darren Gough (Yorkshire), Frank Tyson (Northamptonshire via Lancashire), Andrew Flintoff (Lancashire).
Since it’s professional inception though Durham has consistently produced pace in abundance and with Matty Potts the latest addition to the fold - long may it continue!