Jon Lewis: Durham head coach expects squad to stay despite relegation

Jon Lewis: Durham support 'astounding' post-relegation

Head coach Jon Lewis expects Durham's players to stay for 2017 despite their enforced relegation to Division Two of the Championship over financial issues.

The club accepted a £3.8m package from the England and Wales Cricket Board to wipe out debts, and were demoted to the second tier as part of their penalty.

Durham finished fourth in Division One after winning their last two games.

"I'm sure the players are adamant they're going to stay and get us back to where we should be," said Lewis.

"I can't guarantee the agents are thinking the same way, but the players I'm pretty confident are going to be here next year."

Leading run-scorer Keaton Jennings and captain Paul Collingwood have agreed new deals.

Mark Wood and Ben Stokes also remain Durham players, although much of their schedule will likely be taken up playing for England, but Mark Stoneman, Scott Borthwick and Phil Mustard have joined other clubs.

Botham would 'lift' Durham

Ian Botham
Ian Botham played for Durham in the early years after their first-class status was awarded in 1992

There has been speculation about Ian Botham, a former Durham player, returning to the club in some capacity following the restructuring of the board at the Riverside.

"It'd be huge for the area and the club if he were to come in," Lewis told BBC Look North.

"I thought that it would be someone from a commercial or business background, but if it's Ian that's great. He'd give everyone a lift and bring some good people with him too."

Upbeat after the disappointment

The full extent of the punishment handed out to Durham by the ECB was something of a shock to the players.

  • Relegation to Division Two
  • Will begin the 2017 season with a 48-point deduction
  • Stripped of Test ground status
  • Four point penalties in the T20 Blast and One-Day Cup competitions
  • Revised salary caps between 2017-2020 to be determined by the ECB board
  • Exempt from all prize fund receipts until the debt is cleared

"It's a bit beyond what we were expecting," Lewis added. "After Monday there's been a lot of signs of optimism.

"It feels like it's through no fault of ours - that being the dressing room.

"There's some anger, but then the response is - 'we'll put this right'."