PAUL Collingwood will be at the helm when Durham begin their final preparation for the defence of the County Championship title against Durham University at Chester-le- Street on Monday.

Graham Onions will also play after sitting out the MCC v Champions game in Abu Dhabi as Durham plan to field the intended line-up for the opening championship match at Northampton, starting on Sunday week.

Collingwood is keen to have some match practice after spending the winter in coaching capacities with Scotland and England. He has just returned from Bangladesh following England’s early exit from the World T20 Championship.

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Onions has not been out of action for long as he spent the first part of the winter playing for the Dolphins in South Africa, then represented the England Lions team in Sri Lanka.

“Graham looks good, but we want him to have a good workout against the students,” said coach Jon Lewis.

“I’m sure he’ll be fine to go into the game and Paul will be back to captain the team. He’ll want some time at the crease, which all the other batsmen have had in the pre-season games.”

Durham spent two days this week playing limited-overs practice matches against Kent at Canterbury, picking up two T20 victories but losing a 50-over match by three wickets after scoring 276 for nine.

One-day captain Mark Stoneman and Phil Mustard put on 132 for the first wicket, but Daniel Bell-Drummond, who scored a half-century for MCC against Durham last week, put Kent on their way with a stand of 118 with Fabian Cowdrey, grandson of Colin Cowdrey.

Over the two T20 matches there were brisk half-centuries from Stoneman, Gareth Breese and Michael Richardson, who hit an unbeaten 73 from 52 balls, while Gordon Muchall was twice unbeaten on 33 and 30.

Durham took academy seamer Gavin Main, a Scotland Under 19 player from Lanark, along to Kent and he took three wickets in the first T20 match.

New signing Stuart Poynter pulled off two stumpings.

  • Northamptonshire are in talks with South African seamer Rory Kleinveldt and hope to have him available to face Durham.

He has made 20 international appearances, including four Test matches, and has been lined up as a replacement for Australian Jackson Bird, who has had to pull out of his contract because of a back problem.

Northants have agreed terms with Kleinveldt and are waiting to hear back from Cricket South Africa.

All-rounder David Willey also has a back injury and looks certain to miss the Durham match, while one-day captain Alex Wakeley will miss the whole season with an Achilles injury.