County news December 6, 2013

Cook steps back from Durham first team

ESPNcricinfo staff

Geoff Cook, Durham's director of cricket, will take a step back from first-team responsibilities in order to devote more time to the county's development of young players. Cook suffered a heart attack midway through last season but was fit enough to join in the celebrations as Durham won their third Championship in five years.

Jon Lewis, who along with bowling coach Alan Walker stepped up to take charge of the first team after Cook fell ill, will continue in the role. After Durham's annual cricket review, it was decided that Cook will remain as director of cricket but with a focus on the academy, youth squads and 2nd XI.

Cook has been involved with the club since Durham became a first-class county in 1992, taking charge of the first team in 2007 and leading them to the Friends Provident Trophy that season. In 2008, they won the first of back-to-back Championship titles.

"The club's achievements over the last 21 years are nothing short of remarkable and not many would have anticipated three County Championship titles in such a short time," Cook said.

"The fact that this success was based on the development of north-east cricketers makes it all the more special. There is a lot of young cricket talent in the Durham youth squads and we hope that many of these players come through to represent to first team and hopefully bring glory to Durham in years to come."

Durham's chief executive, David Harker, said: "On behalf of the club I would like to acknowledge Geoff's incredible achievements with the first team over the past six years. Durham County Cricket Club has delivered outstanding results under Geoff's leadership and we are thrilled that Geoff will now focus his considerable expertise on our youth development programme that is so important to the continued success of the club."

The majority of Durham's squad in 2013 was homegrown, with the likes of the captain, Paul Collingwood, and fellow England internationals such as Ben Stokes, Scott Borthwick, Graham Onions and Phil Mustard coming through under the guidance of Cook, 62.

Lewis, who retired as a Durham player in 2006, was previously in charge of the second team. Alistair Maiden will take over as 2nd XI coach, with John Windows staying in his position as academy director.

"I am delighted to be given the opportunity to continue this role and I am excited for the challenge ahead," Lewis said. "This is a very interesting time for the club with the evolution of the side and the increased opportunities for home-grown players to shine.

"Having been second-eleven coach for many years I have worked with a lot of the young players coming through and now beginning to perform in the first team. I will hopefully develop the partnership with Paul Collingwood, we work extremely well on and off the field and hopefully we can bring success to the club in 2014."