Chris Rushworth will embark upon the new LV= Insurance County Championship campaign scarcely able to believe he is on the brink of becoming Durham’s record wicket-taker.

The 34-year-old, who broke through the 500 barrier on the way to a tally of 510 by the end of last season, has only Simon Brown on 518 and Graham Onions with 527 ahead of him, and he knows a handful of good days in favourable conditions will see him overhaul both in short order.

For Rushworth, who was released by Durham as a 19-year-old having played a single List A game before being handed a second chance, that would cap a remarkable turnaround.

He said: “It would be almost unbelievable, really, from where I’ve come from. It would be a very proud moment.

“I’ve never made a secret of the fact that I’m really proud of the second chance I’ve been given. I’ve loved every minute of it.

“The fact that I’m as close as I am, it’s remarkable and there would be a huge sense of pride, no doubt.

“Those records aren’t too far away, so you want to get those ticked off as quickly as possible and just concentrate on winning games for Durham.”

Rushworth and his team-mates will get started against Nottinghamshire at Trent Bride on Thursday hungry for competitive cricket following last summer’s truncated programme amid the coronavirus pandemic.

The seamer, who will celebrate his 35th birthday in July, knows he is entering the twilight of his career, but is determined to wring every last second out of it with 38-year-old England paceman James Anderson blazing a trail for the game’s elder statesmen.

Rushworth said: “You look at someone like Jimmy – he’s someone who seems to be getting fitter and fitter with every season. He looks well, gets his overs in, his pace is still up and he’s still taking wickets in international cricket.

“There’s no reason why someone like me can’t keep going for a while yet in county cricket.

“I’m feeling fit. We’ve worked really hard over the winter with our strength and conditioning lads, a lot of work in the gym and on the running track, so I’m just raring to go.”

New skipper Scott Borthwick, who has returned to Chester-le Street after four years at Surrey, will deploy Rushworth as one of his main weapons, and will have no qualms about doing so if he continues to take wickets as he has done over the last decade or so.

Borthwick said: “His numbers are there for everyone to see. He’s an unbelievable performer and I’m looking forward to working with him again – and hopefully taking some slip catches off him as well.

“Hopefully if he’s keeping the ball in his hand, it’s meaning that he’s bowling well and taking wickets. If he’s doing that, he can bowl all day if he wants.”