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Page last updated at 13:32 GMT, Tuesday, 27 October 2009

Harmison signs long Durham deal

Harmison wants to dominate with Durham

Pace bowler Steve Harmison has signed a fresh four-year deal at Durham as England's dual Ashes winner bids to end his career in his native north east.

Some media reports have suggested the new contract is worth £600,000.

A specialist sport lawyer said further restrictions on work permits for overseas players would make players like Harmison extremely well-paid.

Stephen Hornsby, of Davenport Lyons, said: "Salaries will go up. The players union will be delighted."

As revealed by BBC Sport on Monday, new Home Office laws coming into effect in 2010 have created extra barriers to counties signing overseas players.

They are only permitted to have one in a team (or two in Twenty20 cricket), unless they use a "Kolpak" or passport loophole - but the availability of Kolpak deals is rapidly shrinking.

Hornsby went on: "Ex-international England cricketers such as Harmison are likely to become the best paid as counties receive benefits from the ECB for employing them and they are always available.

mike sutton

"Bearing in mind that county cricket is loss making, where is the extra money for the higher wage bill going to come from? The answer is the same as always - more international fixtures, until they are utterly devalued and the players collapse from exhaustion.

"Only then will the ECB have to confront the elephant in the room which this policy is designed to cover up - namely the pressing need to cull at least six counties from the first-class list."

Counties never reveal how much they pay players and the issue of higher salaries across the board was not on Durham's agenda when they announced Harmison's new deal.

The 31-year-old said: "I have always loved playing cricket for Durham and I'm incredibly proud to represent the club and to be part of the set-up here.

"I'm looking forward to the next four seasons, especially 2010 as we look to win the Championship for a third year."

Harmison was dropped by England for the winter Test series in South Africa. His performances for the national side have tailed off in recent seasons but he has remained a tremendous force on the county scene.

He has taken more than 400 first-class wickets for Durham and claimed the wicket that clinched the County Championship in both of Durham's title wins in 2008 and 2009. In both of those seasons, the Ashington-born star was also named the club's bowler of the year.

Head coach Geoff Cook said: "Stephen is a huge asset to our team. He has a great presence, both on the field and in the dressing room, and his commitment and dedication to the club has always been fantastic."

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see also
ECB wins overseas player battle
26 Oct 09 |  Counties
Harmison gives backing to Hoggard
23 Oct 09 |  Cricket
Harmison surprised by England axe
17 Oct 09 |  England
England omit Harmison for SA tour
08 Oct 09 |  England
Harmison seeks England assurance
20 Sep 09 |  England
Harmison & Panesar lose contracts
11 Sep 09 |  England

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