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Durham season preview

Dynamos tipped to be amongst the frontrunners in four-day game

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It is going to be hard to better the summer of 2007, but a squad packed with international talent looks capable of success again.

The county claimed their first silverware at Lord's last year with a resounding victory over Hampshire in the Friends Provident Trophy final.

They also ended up finishing second to Sussex in Division One of the County Championship and managed promotion to the top-flight in the Pro40 League.

Such a stunning campaign means captain Dale Benkenstein faces a tall order to stop expectations soaring through the roof.

Losing Ottis Gibson, who claimed 80 first-class wickets, is a major blow, though it could be offset by Steve Harmison's availability. After his miserable winter abroad the England paceman should feel much more at home terrorising county batsmen.

Graham Onions and Liam Plunkett round out a strong pace bowling unit that should prosper on the bouncy tracks at the Riverside.

If they are to sustain a title challenge in the four-day game, runs will be the key factor.

Skipper Benkenstein will have to score heavily alongside Shivnarine Chanderpaul, who will be the overseas signing, though not until he has completed his duties with the West Indies. Sadly for Durham, that means he won't arrive until July.

Neil McKenzie will fill-in and South African Albie Morkel should provide some fireworks during the Twenty20 campaign, a tournament that was the only area of disappointment last summer.

Phil Mustard's impressive form for England in New Zealand means he is likely to be summoned for one-day duty for his country while Paul Collingwood will be a brief visitor throughout the season.

As ever, Durham will look to youth to fill any gaps in their team. If the youngsters can make steady progress on the job, this could be the year the Dynamos light up the county circuit.

Big year for: Liam Plunkett - It would be easy to pick Steve Harmison, who may well be playing for his international future. However, Plunkett's stock has fallen even further in terms of England. He needs to get the technical issues sorted to show he is now a better bowler.

Rising star: Mark Stoneman - The right-handed batsman has made a a promising start to his first-class career, including a maiden hundred. He needs to keep on developing to help Durham's top order do their job.