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3rd June 2008

Geoff Cook talks to BBC Radio as FPT Quarter Final arrives

Mark Davies and Callum Thorp are also likely to offer speed and seam options for the Durham boss while the all-round capabilities of Ben Harmison have come to the fore this season too.

Michael Di Venuto (23)
Phil Mustard (19)
Will Smith (2)
Neil McKenzie (22)
Dale Benkenstein (44)
Ben Harmison (14)
Garry Park (6)
Gareth Breese (70)
Callum Thorp (36)
Mark Davies (4)
Stephen Harmison (10)
Mitchell Claydon (25)

Seamer Graham Onions is not likely to play for at least another week after suffering a heel injury while bowling in a group stage against Lancashire just over a fortnight ago.Fast bowler Liam Plunkett is not yet over the rib injury which has sidelined him so far this season. He is due to make his return for the seconds away to Surrey later this week. And Neil Killeen, one of the county’s best one-day specialists, is out for a month with a calf injury.

Cook told BBC Radio Newcastle that reaching the quarter finals was one of his goals this season. He said: “We have not played perfect cricket but in sport they talk about getting momentum going and that has been our message to the players. “We did so well last year because we had that momentum going and we hope to keep that going this season.”

Durham’s early season form was patchy and at one point qualification from the group looked unlikely, but after losing three games on the belt, away to Derbyshire, Lancs and Yorkshire, they bounced back to win four in a row and win the group. He added: “Bowling wise we are confident in the likes of Mark Davies, Callum Thorp, Steve Harmison and Ben Harmison. They are bowling well as a unit and we hope our match winners will be better than the Notts match winners.” 

Batsman Will Smith has forced his way back into the team after disappearing from view mid way through last year. In his recent outings he’s scored a half century against Derbyshire and a century against Sussex. He is up against his former club in the quarter final too, which adds a bit of extra spice: “I am looking forward to this one particularly. They are a good side and very strong in most departments.

“It will be a tough game, but we had a tough game against them up here in the group stages last year, which was effectively a quarter final and we won that and hopefully we can do the same again. “They are a good side and it is satisfying to beat a good side – particularly if it is your former club!”

Durham’s players were forced indoors today because of the rain and would have preferred to have time out on the square. But Notts have been frustrated in their preparations by the weather as well. Durham Captain Dale Benkenstein said: “This is an important week and we are getting down to the business end of the competition. Ten days ago we had a mountain to climb but turned things around and now we are two games away from getting back to Lords.

“I think it suits us being at home and I think we are feared at home and playing this quarter final at home is a big advantage to us. “The weather is bad everywhere so we are preparing indoors but you get used to these conditions. The weather should be fine for the match and if needs be we have a reserve day on Thursday as well.
“But after a great win at Sussex we now have to re-adjust to being back home and focus on the game with Notts.”

Play begins at 12pm and we will have full commentary on BBC Radio Newcastle with Martin Emmerson and Martin Speight. Catch them on 1458AM, DAB and on the BBC Wear website from 11.30am.