Durham coach Lewis to leave the River­side

The Chronicle - - Basketball - BY STU­ART RAYNER

HEAD coach Jon Lewis has left Durham af­ter 21 years at the River­side.

Lewis has de­cided to go af­ter ef­fec­tively be­ing de­moted in the re­struc­tur­ing tak­ing place at Durham.

The for­mer opener coached Durham to the Sec­ond XI Cham­pi­onship in 2008, and against all the odds in 2013 he took over as in­terim coach in mid-sea­son af­ter Ge­off Cook suf­fered a heart at­tack, and led them to the first XI ti­tle. The team was made up al­most ex­clu­sively of play­ers who had come through the sec­ond team un­der Lewis.

He took full control in 2014, when Durham won the One-Day Cup us­ing only 13 play­ers.

In 2016 the River­siders reached the fi­nal of the Twenty20 Cup for the only time in their his­tory.

Lewis stayed loyal and over­saw the re­build­ing of the club af­ter their fi­nan­cial col­lapse in 2016. That saw them rel­e­gated to County Cham­pi­onship Divi­sion Two and lose key play­ers such as Mark Stone­man, Keaton Jen­nings, Scott Borth­wick and Paul Cough­lin. They also de­cided to re­lease Gra­ham Onions, their all-time lead­ing wicket-taker in first-class cricket, and Phil Mus­tard, their top-scorer in Twenty20.

Cham­pi­onship re­sults over the last two years have been par­tic­u­larly dis­ap­point­ing. Last sea­son they fin­ished a eighth out of ten. Reach­ing the quar­ter-fi­nals of the Twenty20 Cup was en­cour­ag­ing, but scant con­so­la­tion.

Against that back­drop, Durham brought in a new di­rec­tor of cricket, Mar­cus North, at the end of last sea­son. Al­though North was tech­ni­cally just re­plac­ing the re­tir­ing Ge­off Cook, the lat­ter had been marginalised since his 2013 heart at­tack, and no longer had much in­flu­ence over first-team cricket. North will be far more hands-on, and has started his new job by car­ry­ing out a full re­view of the coach­ing sys­tem.

He has rec­om­mended a more fluid struc­ture, with coaches work­ing across the club’s var­i­ous sides, rather than con­fin­ing them­selves to just the first, sec­ond or acad­emy teams. There were also plans to bring in a bat­ting coach, thus erod­ing Lewis’ power from be­low as well as above.

Lewis has de­cided to leave “to pur­sue a new chal­lenge ei­ther in the UK or over­seas.” The club are now ex­pected to in­vited ap­pli­ca­tions for a new head coach and pos­si­bly a bat­ting coach.

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