Durham captain Paul Collingwood goes into this week’s LV= County Championship game against Derbyshire knowing a victory would take them one step closer to securing the Division One title.
The north east outfit have been the most consistent side in the top division of the four-day format and have so far picked up their form at exactly the right stage of the season. Collingwood has helped guide his side to five wins from the last six outings, including the crucial victory over previous table-toppers Yorkshire.
Durham travel to Derby in a game which gets under way at 10.30am on Wednesday fully aware of the Derby threat. The hosts are just one point above the relegation zone yet are one of the form sides after winning three of their last four Division One encounters.
It has been a tough season for Collingwood’s men with the county having to deal with adversity throughout, none more so when head coach Geoff Cook suffered a heart attack earlier this summer.
"It's been one of those seasons where we keep turning up at every game and think 'surely something else can't happen' and something always does," Collingwood admitted in an interview with The Northern Echo.
"Whether it's been an injury to a key bowler, we've lost Ben Stokes or Graeme Onions to England, Dale Benkenstein gets an injury or even a fire alarm going off at 2am and you don't get any sleep when you have to go and knock the runs off the next day at Nottinghamshire.
"All the way through things have happened. Losing Geoff Cook half way through the season to a heart attack knocked us and for him to recover and be around now puts a smile on everybody's face.
"It would be great if we could go on and finish the job off after all the adversity the club has been through."
At the start of 2013 Durham had more chance of relegation that once again becoming the top team in England if the bookies were to be believed. Collingwood continued his interview with the regional newspaper where he explained the team are building towards an exciting finish.
"I didn't read too much into it at the start of the season. Everyone at the club thought we'd stay up, but whether we thought we were going to be pushing for the title, I think we would be lying if we said that, but full credit goes to the youngsters who have come
into the side and stepped into the shoes of the players that left like Michael Di Venuto.
"We've had some great victories recently and I think the main thing is when you get closer to a prize more emotion comes into a game and that can be dangerous.
"But I sense an excitement rather than a real nervousness around the team at the moment. It's great to have that kind of attitude when we are in this position.
"It's pretty much take every session as it comes and keep doing what we have been. There's no reason to change anything. We've got to adapt to conditions with two away out of the three and that will be important but the ball is in our court and hopefully we can go out there and perform."
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