No let-up from hungry Harmison

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Steve Harmison believes the current Durham side are more than capable of going the whole season unbeaten in the LV= County Championship after they wrapped up the Division One title for the second year running.

Durham clinched back-to-back titles in the final session of the fourth day against Nottinghamshire when Harmison bowled Mark Ealham for 18 to spark jubilant scenes at a packed Riverside that crowd that had been treated to free admission.

Durham, who needed 11 points from the game against their second-placed rivals but ended up coming away with 22, have not lost in 15 matches this summer and still have to face Hampshire and relegated Worcestershire.

Durham

Steve Harmison is surrounded by his team-mates as Durham capture the County Championship title at a packed Riverside

Harmison is relishing the prospect of going the whole season without tasting defeat in four-day cricket.

“I don’t see why not. One step is to win the title and the next is to go unbeaten,” he said after Durham’s victory.

“We haven’t looked like being beaten so far this season, and the draws we’ve had we’ve been on the winning end of them, so why not?

“Hampshire did us a favour last year but I’m sure there will not be any favours from Durham. We’ll go down there to try and win the game and we’ll go to Worcester and do exactly the same.”

Durham’s triumph last summer was completed in the final game against Kent at Canterbury, with Harmison picking up the wicket of Martin Saggers to see his side to victory.

This time out the fast bowler sneaked one through Ealham’s defences to start celebrations at the Riverside that were in front of around 5,000 fans.

“To get the last wicket was something special,” he added. “To get the final wicket two years in a row is something I’m proud of.

"The support we’ve had here today means a hell of a lot to all the players and we thank the supporters for that.

“I would rather Liam Plunkett have got it because 10 wickets in a match is a special achievement and he bowled fantastically well in the first innings.

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The Durham players enjoy their moment. Harmison believes they can extend their unbeaten record by two games

“I think all the luck I’ve had throughout the summer disappeared in the first innings, but I’m happy with the way things have gone and it’s a great achievement for Durham as a county and as a group of players.”

Harmison also singled out captain Will Smith for special praise given his role in the charge to the title.

Smith took over the mantle from Dale Benkenstein at the beginning of the summer, handling the array of international talent at the club with admirable ease.

“I’m especially pleased for Will, captain at 25-year-old in a team full of international players,” Harmison continued. “We’ve found a formula of how to play here [at the Riverside].

“In the years I’ve been a professional cricketer here we’ve always been able to get wickets, we just haven’t been able to get runs, so credit goes to the senior batsmen who have stepped up to the plate and put runs on the board.

“The four, five or six fast bowlers we have in the group know that we can take 20 wickets.”

Durham already look a good bet to at least be contenders next year, and Harmison believes the county are in with a good shout of attempting to emulate Yorkshire’s record of three consecutive titles in the 1960s.

“Its going to take a good team to stop us," he said. "If we hold the nucleus of this side and the confidence goes through to next year and keep our senior men fit it’s going to take a good team to stop us because we’re a good side here.”

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