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First it giveth - View from the Lumley End
WITH one hand the great cricketing gods giveth, with the other they taketh away.
With the decision to delay the pointless, unpopular and potentially dangerous Champions Trophy, a competition so irrelevant that the best justification for it currently seems to be contractual obligation, it seems as though Shiv Chanderpaul will be around until the end of the season.
This thankfully comes as a sweetener after the newly blond-tipped Steve Harmison's decision to return to international one day cricket.
Despite being Durham's leading wicket-taker this season, it's perhaps the one department of the team that can be best covered within the squad, while Chanderpaul's departure would have left the middle order looking shaky to say the least and scrabbling around to find a short-term replacement.
Harmison's swift international rehabilitation has come as no shock to anyone who's watched his transformation from the undoubtedly talented but slightly sorry-looking figure who still looked out of sorts at the back end of April, to the altogether more expressive character looking like he'd never been away from the international set-up.
The triumvirate of Harmison, Flintoff and Pietersen have found themselves in the unusual position as among the senior men in the current England line-up and there's something about each of them which seems to complement each other, almost like the roguish school boys made good.
Harmison, along with Paul Collingwood, should return for the final games of both the County Championsip and the other strange cricketing anomaly the Pro40 league, both competitions in which Durham find themselves almost improbably in pole-position.
It is of course the County Championship that every Durham fan wants to win, being as it is the true mark of the county's progression to a major cricketing force.
The double would be a marvellous achievement, especially with the team's progress this year being a shared effort and not one centred on two or three players.
Even the so-called stars of the team have had periods in which they have looked out of sorts, Michael Di Venuto among them, although his majestic destruction of Worcestershire has come at a vital time to get back into form for one last push.
One month and eight games to go and it is in Durham's hands to win two trophies, something which we would have surely settled for in the chilly days of April, when Steve Harmison looked as happy to be there as the sun.
Perhaps his renaissance can end as a metaphor for the transformation of the county and a triumph which once seemed so far away.