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Top job was Collingwood's Durham destiny
IT has always seemed part of Paul Collingwood's destiny that he should end his career as Durham captain.
The only doubt was how much time he would have left once his England career was over, but with two more years on his contract it seems right and proper for him to take on the job now.
He has occasionally led Durham, the first occasion being as far back as 2002, when he took the reins for one match because Jon Lewis was injured.
In an unusual scorecard at home to Gloucestershire, he was among seven players who passed 30 without anyone going on to make a hundred, Andrew Pratt making his career-best 93.
Almost a full day was lost to rain as the visitors, following on 338 behind, reached 261 for eight at the close. Of the 11 on duty for Durham, Gordon Muchall is the only other survivor.
Collingwood also skippered the side in two more drawn matches at the end of the 2005 season, when Mike Hussey was unavailable.
It was an odd-looking side as, in an effort to ensure promotion was nailed down, Durham brought in Australians Jimmy Maher and Brad Williams as replacement overseas men, and they had Gary Scott opening the batting.
Both games were at home and against Derbyshire Collingwood scored a second innings century before setting the visitors a target of 280 in 66 overs. He was made to sweat as they closed on 277 for six on a pitch which grew flatter.
More than a day was lost to rain against Northamptonshire and the match fizzled out into a draw, but promotion was already assured.
That was the season in which Collingwood really came of age, scoring six centuries in 13 championship appearances. He played in the final Ashes-clinching Test and England commitments meant that in the next five years he played in only four championship games.
There were occasional one-day appearances, but some members felt there were times when he could have played and didn't.
It was inevitable that some would question his loyalty, but while his friend Michael Vaughan was unable to get to grips with a return to county cricket there was never much doubt that Collingwood would give something back to those who nurtured him.
He admitted it was difficult to fit into the dressing room when making only fleeting visits, but insisted he was "a Durham lad through and through" when he signed his three-year contract last season.
Having retired from Test cricket, there was speculation that he would have become captain from the start of this season. But he expected to be at the Indian Premier League until late May, potentially missing half of the LV County Championship programme, only for Rajasthan Royals to inform him he wouldn't make the team.
He had already spent a large part of the winter on the Twenty20 circuit in Australia and South Africa and after helping Perth Scorchers to the Big Bash final he is guaranteed another bumper pay packet at the Champions League in October.
His main focus now, however, is on dragging Durham away from the foot of division one, starting at Worcester tomorrow.