The Riversiders have agreed terms with West Indies star Shivnarine Chanderpaul which will bring the top-ranked batsman in world cricket back to the Riverside next season.
Chanderpaul, 34, has scored more than 8,000 Test runs for the West Indies at an average of 49, though his return for Durham has been more modest.
A short spell in the North East in 2007 was followed by another this year, where he replaced Neil McKenzie as Durham’s overseas player in mid-season.
The talented left-hander’s 15 innings for Durham have produced 359 runs at a disappointing average of 25 – but chief executive David Harker believes there is much more to come.
Harker said: “We have shaken hands on a deal to bring Shiv back to Durham next year and he should be available for the vast majority of the season, which is a big plus.
“He has not scored the amount of runs he would have liked to for Durham this year, but he is still the best batsman in the world and I am sure he will have a major impact in 2009.
“He is a quality player who enjoys playing for Durham. He has fitted in very well and is a major figure in the dressing room.
“We have not had him available for a full season before, so that will be very important as we look to build on the success of the past few years.”
Chanderpaul, along with Sri Lankan Mahela Jayawardene and South African duo Dale Steyn and Graeme Smith, has been nominated for the ICC’s Cricketer of the Year award.
Chanderpaul, Jayawardene and paceman Steyn are also nominated in the Test Player of the Year category at the fifth ICC Awards, which will be staged in Dubai tomorrow.
Chanderpaul was part of the Durham side due to start their crucial four-day Championship match with Somerset at Taunton today.
Durham, meanwhile, have released locally-produced all-rounder Gary Scott but have offered new deals to batsmen Gordon Muchall and Garry Park.
Neither player has featured in the first-team much this summer and Muchall has yet to accept a new one-year deal.
Gateshead seamer Graham Onions has signed a new three-year contract.
It remains to be seen if Durham show an interest in veteran former England seam bowler Dominic Cork, who has been released by Lancashire.
Meanwhile, Harker believes an exciting multi-million pound development of the Riverside will safeguard the club’s international future.
Durham have unveiled ambitious plans which include raising the capacity to 20,000, floodlights, replay screens, conference and banqueting facilities and a new 150-room three-star hotel.
The Riverside will be transformed into one of the leading sporting venues in the region and a state-of-the-art cricket ground.
Harker said: “We hope to have all the improvements in place for the 2011 domestic Twenty20 Finals, which will be staged at the Riverside for the first time.
“For the first time we will be able to compete with the other Test venues on a like-for-like basis – and without the development international cricket at Chester-le-Street would have been in doubt.
“The stadium will be a magnificent facility when it is complete and there will be a new travel plan to support the project.”
The cost of the redevelopment is a massive £45m, but Harker is confident the necessary finance is in place.
He added: “There will be a whole cocktail of sources to cover the cost of the project, but there is little debt involved.”
The first phase of the major redevelopment will take place in the close season, when the new south east stand will be extended.
:: DUE to the recent heavy rain Durham’s three-day Second XI Championship match against Glamorgan, which starts tomorrow, will be played at South Northumberland CC and not Swalwell CC as the Swalwell pitch is unfit.
Source: Chronicle Live