North heads for the North-East
The Western Australian batsman, Marcus North, has joined Durham as cover for Herschelle Gibbs, who will be absent on international duty at various stages of the 2004 season.
North, 24, has played in the North East Premier League and will be returning to league cricket in between his spells with Durham. He recently enjoyed a prolific season with Western Australia, scoring over 1000 runs at an average of 56.52.
"I'm delighted to be given the opportunity to play first-class cricket in England, especially at Durham," said North. "My wife is from the North East and the region is a second home for me. I've been in good form this year and hopefully I can continue that for the Durham fans."
North will make his debut at the start of the season, while Gibbs is still on international duty and will return in August during South Africa's tour of Sri Lanka. "Marcus is a great asset," said Durham's captain, Jon Lewis. "He is a proven run-scorer and can also contribute a few overs [of offspin]. His signing also gives us some form of continuity throughout the season."
Durham's chief executive, David Harker, was also pleased with the signing. "Marcus should settle in fairly quickly as he has played for several years in the North East. He is an exciting young talent and should score plenty of runs during Herschelle's absence."