HE might be happy to act as a mentor to Durham’s young bowlers, but Chris Rushworth heads into the new County Championship season determined to prove he is still capable of performing a starring role with the ball himself.

Rushworth etched his name into Durham’s record books last summer as he claimed his 528th wicket for the county and replaced Graham Onions as the club’s all-time leading wicket taker.

Having made his Durham debut almost two decades ago in 2004, the Sunderland 35-year-old has experienced plenty of ups and downs with his home county.

He briefly worked in a call centre after he was released in the early stages of his career, but when he was offered a second chance, he took it with both hands, helping Durham win multiple trophies during their glory years and then leading the county’s fightback after the pain of demotion and points deductions.

With Thursday’s four-day game at Glamorgan marking the start of another county season, he is the elder statesman within a bowling group that will attempt to fire Durham to promotion. He enjoys working with the next generation of talent, but is adamant he is not ready to move aside just yet.

“I wouldn’t be here if I didn’t still have that hunger and that desire,” said Rushworth. “I’m determined to get this club back in Division One, so hopefully this is the year.

“We had some younger lads making their debuts last season, and they’ll be hoping to make a name for themselves this year. It’s nice to work alongside them and see what they’re capable of.

“It’s always nice to talk about bowling with the group of bowlers. We’ve got a good group of young lads now, so it’s good to spend time in the indoor nets or outdoors and chat bowling.

“I can talk about how I go about things and see how they want to go about their careers, and I’m quite happy to sit and talk. I’m not done just yet myself though – I’ve still got plenty left in the tank.”

Rushworth finished last season as the second-highest wicket taker in the County Championship, with 59 successes to his name – only Nottinghamshire’s Luke Fletcher took more – and is hoping to enjoy similar success this season.

He has not set himself any personal targets ahead of the start of the new campaign, but is hoping more individual success will dovetail with a strong team showing from a Durham side that are openly targeting promotion to Division One of the County Championship as well as the winning of a white-ball trophy.

“We showed last year that we made really good progress in four-day cricket,” said Rushworth. “We were close to getting into Division One, but the weather went against us a few times and we had a few poor games early on in the season.

"I think we showed we’re definitely a good enough team to compete for promotion though.

“That’s the aim, and I don’t really set my own targets. In days gone by, every bowler would probably have set themselves that 50-wicket benchmark, but for me, it’s just about trying to take as many wickets as possible, and ultimately contributing to Durham winning games.

"That’s the main aim, really. As long as we’re doing well, personal milestones are on the backseat really.”