Durham hoping for big turnout
Durham are hoping to attract a 6,000-crowd at the Riverside tonight when they will attempt to clinch a Twenty20 Cup home quarter-final by beating Lancashire Lightning in their final group game.
The game, which starts half an hour earlier than usual at 5.30pm, is between the top two sides in the North group, with the winners guaranteed home advantage in the last eight.
Both sides have already qualified for the knockout phase – Durham for the first time – which has vindicated the decision to bring in South Africa stars Shaun Pollock and Albie Morkel on short-term contracts.
Chief Executive David Harker is delighted Durham have finally embraced the shortest form of the game to further confirm their status as one of the top clubs in the domestic game.
Harker said: “We couldn’t afford to remain also-rans in Twenty20 cricket, and set up a three-year plan in which the signings of Pollock and Morkel were the first step.
“By qualifying for the quarter-finals we’ve achieved our first objective, but we mustn’t get ahead of ourselves as we still need to win our quarter-final tie to make Finals Day at the Rose Bowl.
“We’ll have our best crowd of the season tonight when we’ll hopefully beat Lancashire to make sure we’re at home in the next round – and if it is at the Riverside a gate approaching 10,000 would not be impossible.
“Our ultimate aim is to become one of the top 10 Twenty20 sides in the world, and we’ve taken the first step on that global journey.”
A Morkel six-hitting blitz saw the Dynamos beat Lancashire by six wickets at Old Trafford after they had required 53 runs from the last four overs.
Morkel will again be in the side tonight, but unlikely to bowl due to a back injury, as Durham look to continue their impressive Riverside one-day form.
Morkel and Pollock will be in the side for next month’s quarter-final tie, with Pollock also available for Finals Day in Southampton should Durham qualify, but Morkel’s place would be taken by Shiv Chanderpaul.
Lancashire, meanwhile, will have most of their big guns available for tonight’s showdown, including fit-again England all-rounder Andrew Flintoff.