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On Sunday 12th May, Durham Dynamos take on Warwickshire Bears, a dual certain to be a baptism of fire for the newly promoted Dynamos. Richard Nowell caught up with batting hot shot Nicky Peng to find out how the Dynamos are looking to out-muscle the Bears.

Everyone always thinks of the North East being football crazy, and yes it is, but over the last few years Durham CCC have become a force to be reckoned with in County cricket.

After being granted Test status earlier this year, the Dynamos are keen to make another big impact this season. We have a young side; only JJ Lewis and Simon Brown are over 30, so I suppose that's what also helps us in one-day matches.

We have such a great team spirit, probably because most of the players have progressed through the youth system and academy. That was my route to first team cricket, with Geoff Cook, Director of Development at Durham, putting me through my paces.

I've had to grow up a lot since then, especially mentally, it's tough in your first professional season as there's plenty of banter flying round the outfield when you are batting! And, as I didn't have any 2nd XI experience - it was in at the deep end.

Promotion in the Norwich Union League was fantastic last year, though now we must maintain our form and extend it to the four-day cricket as well. We had a few injuries last season and the treatment room is a busy one at the moment. But, once we are all fit there is no reason why Durham can't be lifting a trophy at the end of this season.

Personally, I feel in good form with the bat and after spending a winter out with the England Academy in Australia my game has made big strides forward. Rod Marsh, the former Aussie cricketer was in charge and, yes, it was tough but also good fun. Physically is was demanding, but fitness is crucial in the modern game, as matches are, so often, won and lost by a diving catch or a crucial run out.

I learnt a great deal from my time in Oz, and now understand why the Australians are a step ahead of us Poms. It's hunger! With only six states they play less matches and pro cricketers have fewer opportunities to show the selectors how good they are. Therefore each match has to count. The pitches are better too, bowlers can't rely on green damp wickets, they have to work hard to get people out.

Looking ahead, the English game is changing. The introduction of 20 over cricket will be interesting. Crowds want to see big shots and action, we need to encourage people to come and watch. You can see by the Norwich Union League how much the people love it; with coloured clothing and floodlights it brings a different dimension to cricket.

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