DURHAM will find out today whether they are to lose new skipper Mike Hussey for part of the season, which starts next week.

The word from Australia is that Hussey will not be in the Ashes squad, with former Durham man Brad Hodge - due to play for Lancashire this season - being narrowly preferred as the reserve batsman. But Hussey will be in the one-day party, which would take him away from early June to July 12.

Coach Martyn Moxon, who is with Durham on their pre-season tour in Sharjah, said last night: "Mike is making enquiries for us back in Australia about a temporary replacement, so we are hoping to be able to get something arranged fairly quickly."

Assuming he didn't have to join up with the Australian squad until after Durham's match at Worcester on June 1-4, Hussey would miss three championship games, including the one away to his former county, Northamptonshire.

He would also miss two totesport matches and the whole Twenty20 Cup programme as the one-day international programme means England will play Australia seven times.

Durham would have the option of recalling Hussey's Western Australia teammate Marcus North, who was with them last season, or they could go for someone like Michael Bevan, who no longer features in Australia's plans. Moxon knows Bevan from his Yorkshire days.

Durham struggled in 100 degree heat and lost their latest tour match against Abu Dhabi Cricket Club, a mixture of Indians, Pakistanis and Sri Lankans.

"It was very good experience for some of our younger lads," said Moxon.

"It was a fantastic stadium in the middle of the desert and we just wilted in the last ten overs of their innings. They got 260 with 65 coming off the last five overs, and we scored just over 200."

Top scorer for Durham was off-spinning all-rounder Gary Scott, with another academy product who is also on a development contract, David Barrick, also helping to revive the innings after a poor start.

Durham's only other defeat on the tour, which ends tomorrow, was by one wicket when they fielded a very young team.

Read more about Durham here.