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Page last updated at 19:19 GMT, Tuesday, 18 November 2008

Durham sign all-rounder Blackwell

Ian Blackwell
Blackwell played in one Test match for England in March 2006 in India

County champions Durham have added former England spinner Ian Blackwell to their squad for next season.

The 30-year-old all-rounder has signed a three-year contract at the Riverside, bringing his eight-year association with Somerset to an end.

Blackwell, a big-hitting batsman and a left-arm spinner, provides new captain Will Smith with plenty of experience having played 147 first-class matches.

He has featured in one Test for England as well as 34 one-day internationals.

Durham head coach Geoff Cook was delighted to secure the services of Blackwell.

"With Durham looking to constantly improve our squad when it became clear Ian was available we grabbed the chance of signing him," he said.

"I think it's important to sign players of Ian's quality and experience to continue the progress of the squad in all forms of the game."

Durham chief executive David Harker added: "We were delighted to win the County Championship last season, but it is important that we learn lessons and continue to add quality players, such as Ian, to the squad."

With the bat, Blackwell boasts 21 first-class centuries and has a top-score of 247, which came against his former county Derbyshire in 2003.

606: DEBATE

On the wicket-taking front, Blackwell, who began his career with his first-class career in 1997, has earned 240 dismissals.

Blackwell joined Somerset for the 2000 season, going on to captain them in 2006.

He also boasts the Walter Lawrence Trophy among his prized possessions for the fastest century of the season, which took him just 67 balls in 2005 - also against Derbyshire.

His one Test appearance for England came in their previous tour of India in March 2006, but he scored only four runs and failed to take a wicket.

During the last county season, Blackwell was in the top 10 batsmen in the Championship, scoring 1006 runs including three centuries and seven half-centuries.



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