DURHAM'S search for an all-rounder has put them on the trail of Danny Law, who specialises in producing his best performances against them.

As an England Under 19 player, 25-year-old Law was considered a huge talent as a 6ft 5in bowler of real pace and a hard-hitting batsman.

Durham have seen glimpses of both, but after leaving Sussex at the end of the 1996 season he has failed to press on in three years with Essex, who have granted his request to be released.

In a career held back by injuries, Law has twice produced amazing spells against Durham. At Hove in 1996 he reduced their second innings from 24 for no wicket to 50 for five, taking all the wickets to finish with five for 33, his best figures for Sussex.

Then at the Riverside in 1998 he took a hat-trick, having Mike Foster and Nicky Phillips caught at slip by Stuart Law before pinning Melvyn Betts lbw. He finished with five for 46, his best figures for Essex.

He also made his best limited overs score of 82 against Durham at Chelmsford in 1997, having first shown them the power of his one-day batting with 47 not out at Hove the previous year.

On the other hand, his only first-class game in 1999 was against Durham at Colchester, when his struggles with injury were all too apparent as he took none for 43 in seven dreadful overs.

Durham have not had a genuine all-rounder since Foster was forced to retire during the 1999 season, and a fully-fit Law would bring balance to the side. He would also help to bring the bowling back up to strength following the loss of Betts and John Wood.

Durham spoke to Hetton-born all-rounder Graeme Welch after Warwickshire agreed to release him, but he has joined Derbyshire.

l Durham's fears that their overseas player Simon Katich might be selected for the Ashes tour next summer have increased with reports from Australia that he is in line for his Test debut.

Katich could be selected for the third Test against the West Indies because of an injury to skipper Steve Waugh. The Western Australia left-hander has agreed to return for a second season with Durham next summer if he is not required by his country.