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August 25, 2014
The lure of perfecting his cover drive has persuaded Paul Collingwood to delay retirement and sign a new, one-year contract with Durham at the age of 38.
Collingwood, who captained Durham to an unexpected Championship triumph last season and continues to lead the four-day side, joked earlier this year that he had finally learned how to play a shot at odds with his favoured leg-side nurdling but his bowling in limited-overs cricket has also been evergreen, leading the wicket-taker's list for his county.
Durham will play Yorkshire this week in the quarter-finals of the Royal London Cup, in which the former England captain has made 344 runs at 68.80, to go with 10 wickets and an economy of less than four runs per over. He has also made 620 runs in the Championship, where Durham find themselves in the bottom two and facing a fight to avoid relegation from Division One, a position similar to when Collingwood took the captaincy in 2012.
Collingwood had taken the first steps towards a coaching career over the winter, helping Scotland qualify for the 2015 World Cup and joining England on their Caribbean tour and at the World T20. He was also touted for a role in the new set-up under Peter Moores.
"I had presumed this was going to be my last season but I'm really enjoying my cricket and feel as though I'm still contributing to the team," Collingwood said. "You're a long time retired and I've still got ambitions to take this team forward. It really is a special group of guys to be involved with and I don't want to give that up too early.
"We've got a lot to play for in the back end of the season with the quarter-finals and trying to avoid relegation, which would be a huge achievement. There is a bigger picture as well which is about having another year to continue to create a culture that will hopefully be around for another five to ten years. I'm certain that the backbone of this side, with the youngsters coming through, will be strong for years to come."
Having won the title with a young, largely homegrown side in 2013, Durham have struggled with a restricted budget and injuries to their formidable bowling attack, most significantly Graham Onions. They are currently eighth in Division One, having played a game less than Lancashire in seventh, and will hope for a similar run to two years ago, when they won five of their last six games after Collingwood replaced Phil Mustard as captain.
Durham's head coach, Jon Lewis, added: "Everyone at the club is delighted that Paul will be continuing his career. His contribution as a player, leader and character in the dressing room is difficult to measure. It is a big lift for everyone knowing that he will be with us next year"
© ESPN Sports Media Ltd.
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