GAVIN Hamilton was back on his old stamping ground at Headingley yesterday, making 60 and knowing that the bowling nightmare which drove him away has also brought him back.

The difference is that he no longer loses sleep over it, having decided to abandon his attempts to rediscover the form which saw him take 56 championship wickets at 20.41in 1998 and 43 at 19.18 the following year.

His decision may prove to be of benefit to Scotland, for whom he is playing six totesport League games, although they are likely to be disillusioned if they were hoping to use him as an all-rounder.

Hamilton has accepted defeat after his latest bout of the bowling "yips" and Durham coach Martyn Moxon said: "In a way he's quite relieved about it because now he can concentrate solely on his batting.

"His bowling was fine when we were away on the pre-season tour and he's had no problems in the nets, but it suddenly went haywire when he was playing in a Bradford League match for East Bierley."

Hamilton was unable to bowl straight in his last two seasons with Yorkshire, but after delving into every possible explanation he decided to clear his head and get on with it when he joined Durham last year.

Things went reasonably well, only for a thumb injury which required an operation to set him back and he hasn't been able to get in the team this season.

Durham had already decided he could go to the World Cup qualifiers in Ireland in July with Scotland, and after his latest setback they agreed he could play six totesport League games for the Scots.

He made only four in Sunday's match against Warwickshire at Edgbaston and will face Yorkshire at Headingley today, having scored 76 against them at Scarborough in Durham's final totesport match last season.

With an opportunity to go to the West Indies for the 2007 World Cup, Hamilton is keen to be involved with his native country's efforts.

Still only 30, he played in the 1999 World Cup, when he scored 76 and took two for 36 against Pakistan at Riverside.

Scotland are also keen to have the services of Aberdeen-born Kyle Coetzer, who is still on a development contract with Durham. But he has had a groin operation and the qualifiers might come just too soon for him.

ONE or two of Durham's top six have jokingly suggested they wouldn't mind batting at No 8 as going in when the ball is 45 overs old seems to carry a bigger advantage this season.

"It seems to be happening throughout the country," said Moxon. "We're still using the same Dukes balls, but they seem to be going a bit softer. That makes batting easier, but people lower order down the order are also working hard to improve their batting.

"We have the ideal man going in at No 8 in Phil Mustard. At this stage we don't want to expose him to the newer ball on pitches where it's nibbling around a bit."

THE Durham jinx hasn't totally disappeared, as Callum Thorp has found to his cost. After not being called upon to add to his six first-class appearances by Western Australia during their season, he was unable to bowl on Durham's pre-season tour after having a cancerous mole removed from his back.

That put him out of the reckoning at the start of the season, then when he was given the chance to play in a first-class game, against Durham University, his only participation was on the first evening.

He scored five then bowled two overs, taking one wicket, at the end of the day, only to wake up the following morning with a stiff neck. He took no further part, and unless there are injuries he could have another long wait for any more first-class action.

Others currently making sure physio Nigel Kent has something to do are Graham Onions (broken finger) and Academy boys Moneeb Iqbal and Paul Muchall, who both have back problems. It's a setback for Muchall, who is following in brother Gordon's footsteps as an all-round sportsman at Durham School.

NO sooner had I noted in last week's diary that the AGM was all over in no time because no-one had anything to complain about than a couple of members put me right.

They weren't happy that after being told their subscriptions would stay the same they were then informed they would have to pay £5 per Twenty20 game. They were also unhappy about being told that if they wanted a ticket for the one-day international against Australia they would also have to buy a ticket for one day of the Test against Bangladesh.

It's difficult to get a precise membership figure because Durham tend to count the fees rather than the numbers, but it seems to be around 3,500, whereas it was almost 6,000 12 years ago. That's in line with the national trend, although in three days after Mike Hussey began the season with his 253 Durham took £11,000. They will be offering half-year membership at around £60 after the Twenty20 Cup.

ONE of the umpires at the Durham University match last week was New Zealander Tony Hill, who will be standing in his second Test at Riverside on Friday. He is well known to Nathan Astle, who said: "He's a good, solid umpire who manages the players well and will do a good job."