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7th January 2009

Durham Two Selected in BBC’s Six To Watch

The BBC Sport website selects six players it expects to have an impact on international cricket over the next year. The six players chosen include one player from each of the two teams touring England in the summer, three up-and-coming players on the county scene attempting to break into the national senior side, and a member from the England women’s team.

This years selections are Durham’s Will Smith and Mark Davies, Australian Mitchell Johnson, West Indian Xavier Marshall, Kent’s Robbie Joseph and Laura Marsh.

Here is what the BBC had to say about Durham’s pair –

The conveyor belt of fast bowlers from the north-east appeared to have left Davies behind when others like Steve Harmison, Liam Plunkett and Graham Onions gained England recognition, while he did not.

Davies’s handicap was his fitness. He took 97 wickets between 2004 and 2005, and yet was injured for periods of both of those summers before spending three months in a body brace in 2006.

He began to recover in 2007 and took 39 wickets in 11 matches in the Championship-winning squad last summer. That haul included a stunning spell on a flat deck at Old Trafford, when he had Andrew Flintoff caught at slip first ball after seeing off Mark Chilton, Mohammad Yousuf and Mal Loye.

Davies’s career bowling average of 21.17 is very good indeed and he could be approaching his best years now.

Durham University has already provided four top-order batsmen who went on to play for their country in Nasser Hussain, Andrew Strauss, Graeme Fowler and John Stephenson. Will Smith, who will captain the county champions this summer, could be the next.

Always a name to look out for in scorecards featuring the university sides between 2002 and 2005, sheer weight of runs forced his inclusion in Nottinghamshire’s Twenty20 side in the fourth of those summers.

Quite how Notts let him go at the end of 2006 – they essentially swapped him for the Essex giant Will Jefferson – is a bit of a mystery. And in his second season at Durham he racked up 952 Championship runs from 12 matches to be the club’s player of the year – no mean feat in that particular side.

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