DURHAM have appointed their former batsman Marcus North as their new director of cricket.

As revealed in The Northern Echo, the former Australia international was Durham’s preferred candidate from the moment Geoff Cook’s departure was announced at the start of the week.

The 39-year-old, who has spent the last three years as chief executive of South Northumberland CC, will take up his new role at Emirates Riverside on October 1.

During his time with South North, who are based in Gosforth, North presided over back-to-back title triumphs and a national Twenty20 trophy win.

He also oversaw three successful out-ground fixtures as Durham moved Royal London One-Day Cup fixtures against Warwickshire, Leicestershire and Worcestershire to Roseworth Terrace, and also helped stage England’s Under-19s international against South Africa earlier this summer.

“I’m excited to have been given the opportunity to come back to Durham and I am looking forward to working with the very talented young squad of players and staff,” said North. “International and first-class cricket has been a major part of my life, and this role allows me to utilise my experience and skills in a different capacity.

“With the season concluding next week, it is the perfect time to review current strategies. It is paramount we create an environment that challenges and supports this squad, in delivering progression and consistent performances in all forms of the game, to ensure we develop a successful squad that we are proud of.”

Durham’s new chief executive, Tim Bostock, has completed a major review of all of Durham’s cricketing operations, and North’s appointment is one of the key responses to his findings.

Durham have struggled in the second division of the County Championship this season, with this week’s batting debacle at Leicestershire representing a new low.

North excelled as a batsman during his playing career with Durham, scoring four centuries after he was signed as an overseas player in 2004.

He scored five Test centuries for Australia, two of which came against England in the 2009 Ashes Series. During his 16-year playing career, he amassed 20,832 runs in all forms of the game, including 46 centuries, and took 251 wickets with a Test-best performance of 6-55 against Pakistan.

“I’ve known Marcus for a number of years, and he was the outstanding candidate following our thorough recruitment process,” said Bostock. “Marcus has the perfect balance of vast cricket experience from the elite playing side combined with shrewd business sense from his previous chief executive role.

“We’re very confident that Marcus will drive the club forward and help us achieve our ambitions on the pitch. His role will oversee all cricket activities, recruitment, contracts, players, scouting and developments together with the support functions, which all contribute towards creating a high-performance culture at Durham in the future.”