Keaton Jennings is on the verge of a move to Nottinghamshire, a continuation of the exodus of star names from Durham in the months since their financial bail-out by the ECB and subsequent relegation.
While the move is understood to be dependent on Nottinghamshire securing promotion back to Division One of the County Championship, that is expected to be confirmed in the coming days. The county are currently second behind Worcestershire in Division Two, but with a comfortable cushion to third-placed Northamptonshire in the promotion places.
The loss of Jennings, 25, Durham’s 50-over captain and an opening batsman whose form in 2016 earned him the first of his six Test caps on the tour of India last winter, would be a further body-blow to a club who lost their other two first-choice top-three batsmen last season in Scott Borthwick and Mark Stoneman, who has since taken Jennings’ place alongside Alastair Cook in the Test side.
On Tuesday, it was confirmed that Paul Coughlin, Durham’s T20 captain, is also heading for Trent Bridge, having turned down a lucrative contract extension to stay at Chester-le-Street. That decision led Sir Ian Botham, Durham’s chairman, to issue a statement outlining his frustration at the behaviour of “rival counties” which “unsettle players with promises of First Division cricket, greater England opportunities and immediate financial reward”.
That was widely interpreted as a dig at Nottinghamshire’s director of cricket Mick Newell, who combines his county role with a job as an England selector.
News that Jennings is to follow Coughlin to Trent Bridge will unlikely to improve Botham’s mood.
George Dobell is a senior correspondent at ESPNcricinfo