DURHAM are hoping for a bumper crowd when they launch their Specsavers County Championship programme at home to Nottinghamshire today.

Admission has been reduced to £5 for adults, with juniors free, and members have been urged to use their guest ticket to bring in a friend.

A big attendance would reinforce the support from around the country which Durham have received since they were obliged to join today's visitors in dropping to division two.

Nottinghamshire have already taken maximum points from their opening game, just as they did last season. Incredibly, they failed to win another four-day match as their talented squad massively under-achieved.

Coach Mick Newell has moved sideways to make way for Peter Moores and nothing less than immediate promotion will satisfy the Trent Bridge hierarchy.

With Mark Wood available, while Stuart Broad has been told to rest, Durham should have the edge in the seam department. But with Australian seamer James Pattinson also bringing runs, the visitors boast a powerful batting line-up.

It includes Alex Hales, Michael Lumb, Samit Patel and Riki Wessels, who rarely fails against Durham.

Durham include South African opener Stephen Cook and also hand a championship debut to newcomer Cameron Steel, assuming he survives the cut in a squad of 13.

He has been preferred to Graham Clark, who yesterday scored his second century of the match in the Second X1 friendly against a Kent and Essex X1 at Billericay.

Cook arrived last weekend after enduring a tough time in the Test series in New Zealand, where he was dropped after a top score of 11 in four innings.

“I spoke to him after that and he was very phlegmatic about it,” said coach Jon Lewis. “He just wants to get on with scoring runs for us.

“Early last season we knew we had to make cuts, but losing Mark Stoneman and Scott Borthwick was not part of the plan. Once they had gone there was some finance available to plug the gaps.

“We gave it a lot of consideration because we need good people as well as good players. Stephen Cook has the reputation of being a fine character and we are confident we have the right people in him and Tom Latham.

“Tom's availability dovetails nicely with Stephen leaving for the Test series.”

Durham (from): P Collingwood (capt), K Jennings, S Cook, C Steel, J Burnham, M Richardson, S Poynter, P Coughlin, R Pringle, M Wood, B Carse, G Onions, C Rushworth.