Test Match Sofa
"I've still plenty to offer": Di Venuto
By Tim Wellock
As he watched the rain come down at Lord’s, Michael Di Venuto stressed that he will not allow the English weather to hasten his retirement.
The 38-year-old Tasmanian is in the final year of his contract with Durham after joining them in 2007, but he said: “I’m certainly not looking at it as being my last season. I still feel I have plenty to offer.”
Di Venuto needs 74 runs to reach the landmark of 25,000 in a first-class career which began with Tasmania in 1992, the same year as Durham were elevated to first-class status.
He spent a season with Sussex in 1999 and was with Derbyshire from 2000-2006, but it is with Durham that he has enjoyed his greatest success. He was in the team which won the Friends Provident Trophy final at Lord’s in 2007 and added County Championship medals to his collection in the following two years.
“I’m fully aware at my age that the day eventually comes when you have to quit, but I still enjoy playing and going out training,” he said. “I have retired from first-class cricket back home but I played more club cricket last winter than I’ve ever done and I was striking the ball well.”
Di Venuto is second only to Dale Benkenstein in Durham’s list of first-class century-makers with 18 and second to Paul Collingwood in the first-class catches charts. His 27 catches at second slip last season proved that his eyes remain sharp and he added: “I think I will know when they start to go. I’m nine behind Colly but we don’t want any rivalry in the slips. You don’t want to be hoping that someone puts one down.”
Di Venuto admitted that the cold April weather is a shock to the system after spending three weeks in Dubai, where he was in the Italian squad for the World Twenty20 qualifiers before teaming up with Durham on their pre-season tour. Also in the Italian squad was Middlesex all-rounder Gareth Berg, who was born in South Africa but has an Italian mother.
“He’s a genuine all-rounder and a good cricketer,” said Di Venuto. “I enjoyed my time with the Italians, it was great fun, but there were big differences in standards. There were some very good sides, including Afghanistan, but the standard of some of the others shocked me a bit.”
In his first knock back in England, Di Venuto scored a century in a friendly against Yorkshire at Chester-le-Street. “I’d rather have done it against Nottinghamshire last week,” he said. “But it’s always good to spend time in the middle and it didn’t feel much like a friendly against Yorkshire. Both sides went at it pretty hard.”
Although he played in nine one-day internationals, Di Venuto has tended to be overlooked by Durham for one-day games in the last two years and probably has even less chance of playing Twenty20 cricket this season following the signing of Herschelle Gibbs.
But he is keen to play, saying: “I hope to be fit and available for all cricket for Durham. I showed a bit of one-day form last year when I got the chance and I’d like to think there’s still another two or three years left in me in all forms of the game.”
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