Chris handed his big break

Chris Durham of Chapel CC, the Derbyshire Academy and Derbyshire 2nd XI
Chris Durham of Chapel CC, the Derbyshire Academy and Derbyshire 2nd XI

WICKETKEEPER Chris Durham has taken a step closer to realising his ambition of playing first-class cricket after moving up the rankings in the wake of Derbyshire County Cricket Club captain Luke Sutton’s shock retirement.

With Tom Poynton set to become first-choice wicketkeeper at the County Ground following Sutton’s departure last week on health and personal grounds, rising star Durham, 19, from Chapel-en-le-Frith, is expected to get the nod to take-over the gloves for the second XI.

Head Coach Karl Krikken said: “Chris has demonstrated his emerging talent as a wicketkeeper-batsman and – after some impressive cameo appearances – now is his time to step into the second XI consistently.”

Right-hand batsman Durham has played age-group cricket for Derbyshire since the age of ten.

Last season he graduated from Derbyshire’s academy and made eight second XI appearances for the County Ground side.

Proud dad Ian said: “This is his big chance. He is looking forward to having this opportunity to establish himself in the second team and maybe play some first-class cricket.

“His ambition has always been to play professional cricket, and he is now a step closer to realising that dream.”

A former pupil of Chapel-en-le-Frith High School and Cheadle & Marple Sixth Form College, Durham is currently studying psychology on a Derbyshire County Cricket Club-sponsored scholarship at the University of Derby.

As a junior he quickly rose through the ranks at Peak Sports Derbyshire & Cheshire League side Chapel-en-le-Frith Cricket Club before joining Cheadle Hulme in 2008.

Last season he also played cricket for Derbyshire Premier League side Denby CC.

Nick Pearson, Chairman of Chapel CC, added: “When I first joined the club six or seven years ago, Chris was probably one of the most promising and talented cricketers that I had ever seen, and I, along with everyone at the club, am delighted to see he is progressing so well.

“I remember playing alongside him in the second team when he scored his first 50 and you could tell then he was head and shoulders above those of a similar age range.

“His keeping was fantastic from a very young age, and in my opinion it would be extraordinary if he doesn’t become a professional.

“I expect him to go a great deal further yet.”

Durham is also a two-time winner, in 2004 and 2009, of High Peak Cricket Society’s annual Geoffrey Woolley Trophy, awarded to the best-performing local junior cricketers.

He previously represented a Midlands side at the prestigious Bunbury Festival, seen as a breeding ground for future England players.