DURHAM will enter the era of Sir Ian Botham's chairmanship grateful that they have a first-class future.
Twenty-five years after he appeared in the inaugural first-class team, Botham will set out his aims at a press conference at the Chester-le-Street ground on Monday.
But chief executive David Harker does not expect him to mount a fight against the punishment handed out to Durham by the ECB for seeking a financial bail-out.
“Anyone associated with the club was disappointed by the sanctions,” said Harker. “But we entered into the agreement in a desire not just to preserve the club but to create an opportunity to continue to build.
“It's not that we don't care but with a new chairman and board we have to look to the future. We can't keep looking over our shoulders.”
Potential new directors, including a couple proposed by Botham, are under consideration. But Richard Bottomley, who acted as interim chairman, has now stood down from the board.
That leaves only the ever-present Bob Jackson from the directors who served under previous chairman Clive Leach.
“Bob is steeped in local cricket and it's a priority for us to work with the clubs,” said Harker. “He is chairman of the Durham Cricket Board and they are central to what we want to do. That includes continuing to develop cricket for women and girls.
“Another priority is developing our academy ground. We have installed nets with artificial surfaces and have got quotes for the grass work. We hope to start work this spring.”
Harker is not worried that the ECB's plans for regional academies pose any threat to Durham, whose academy recently attracted the top marks in the country.
“We consider that we already operate a regional academy taking in Northumberland, North Yorkshire, Cumbria and Scotland,” he said. “Our academy has a particular ethos and approach to developing players, which we are always looking to improve.”
While there is a suspicion that the ECB went outside their own regulations in the severity of their sanctions, Durham avoided the temptation to go to court for fear of losing the financial support.
“Surrey are probably the only county who could get close to surviving without the money from the governing body,” said Harker.
“I don't agree with the sanctions, but I did agree that the process we have gone through was the only solution which guaranteed the future of the club.
“When I had the opportunity three years ago to get involved in a different business the board invited me to stay on in what was supposed to be a part-time role.
“That never really happened. The last three years have been such a challenge it has been difficult to do anything other than support the club.
“I think I have done the job to the best of my ability. Someone has to deliver this package for the club and it falls to me to do it.”
Mark Wood has been withdrawn from England Lions' one-day series in Sri Lanka next month only weeks after being added to the squad.
The ECB medical staff feel he is on track in his recovery from his latest ankle operation but would be better served by continuing his rehabilitation at home.
Wood is reported to have bowled flat out in training with the England Performance Programme in South Africa last month and is expected to play in the North v South 50-over matches in the UAE, starting on March 17.