MARCUS NORTH admits he has big shoes to fill replacing Geoff Cook as Durham’s director of cricket as the county prepares to embrace at new era at Emirates Riverside.

Cook stepped down from his role at the end of the 2018 season, ending a 27-year affiliation with the county. During his time with the club, Cook guided Durham to the County Championship crown twice in 2008 and 2009 and was also on the staff that led the triumph in the 2013 campaign.

North, who played for Durham in the 2004 season, believes that heeding the lessons from the past will be crucial for the club’s development, along with adding his own experience from his playing career with Australia and during his time in England.

He said: “I think it’s a new era in many ways. I pay huge respect to Geoff Cook. What he achieved in his 27 years associated with the club was quite extraordinary. Durham being the youngest county cricket club by a long way. We haven’t seen that in our generation – a club that starts to exist - and when that happens you have to have a lot of good people behind the scenes to do that. I think Geoff played a huge part in that. They are some big shoes to fill.

“I’ve known Geoff for a very long time. From when I represented the Durham Cricket Board back to when I was playing for Gateshead Fell. And then having my first opportunity in 2004 under Geoff and Martyn Moxon. You’re always looking to move forward and evolve, but for me you’ve got to take the best, learn and respect the past. I’ve got a huge amount of respect for what Geoff achieved. Hopefully, I can bring my strengths to what he achieved and help the club evolve and move on as all teams do.”

North has also conceded that the club will not be able to replace Paul Collingwood’s impact on the field next season. The 42-year-old called time on his playing career after 23 years with Durham, leaving a leadership void on the field as well as the middle order.

He added: “You can throw Colly into that mould. He’s had a tremendous career here at Durham. I guess it’s the father and grandfather of Durham leaving the club within a week. You can’t replace a guy that has been playing here 20 years, being the leading run-scorer. A fantastic cricketer for England and captain of the club. You can’t replace that. There will be players that have opportunities to fill that role, but not necessarily Collingwood’s role – just the position. They’re two big misses.

“I’ve played in my career with a lot of teams that have had great players in them over a long period of time and they made the call to retire. It’s amazing what an opportunity that brings for someone else, who comes into the side and takes the position on. We’ve got some talented young players who will look to fill the void in all three formats of the game. If someone can take a chance and establish a career that will be fantastic.”

Although Collingwood will not return on the field, North has not ruled out a move to add the former England all-rounder to Durham’s coaching staff. The 42-year-old currently has roles in the national set-up on the tours of Sri Lanka and the West Indies, and North believes that he will not be short of suitors for the 2018 season.

“I don’t know what his plans are in the immediate future so we’ll go through that initial process,” North said. “It would be a shame not to have him involved in some capacity. He’ll be a man in demand, he’s already got contracts to coach for England over the winter. There’s no doubt there will be a lot of T20 franchises looking at his expertise too, so we’ll see where that goes.”

Meanwhile, North also revealed that the club are in discussions with veteran bowler Chris Rushworth over a contract extension beyond the end of the 2019 season.