call to region's cricket fans
- Durham County Cricket Club's successful bid for Test Match status
is a massive boost for the North East. Yet the region can only fully
capitalise if North East cricket fans continue to show the maximum
support for international cricket. MARK LANE reports
Harker, Chief Executive of Durham County Cricket Club, has called
for the public and private sectors and North East cricket fans to
get behind the club in its bid to cement not only its own, but the
region's place in the international sporting calendar.
the euphoria of the England and Wales Cricket Board's decision to
award Durham Test Match Ground status from 2003 having died down,
David and his team are seeking the funding necessary to develop
the ground's capacity and facilities to the highest possible levels.
will be hosting their inaugural npower Test Match during 2003, subject
to appropriate staging agreements and other related contractual
matters being concluded between the ECB and all the international
this region having failed in its audacious bid to bring the Ryder
Cup to Slaley Hall, Gateshead International Stadium apparently uncertain
about its future as an international athletics venue and the occasional
major international football matches that have come to the region
likely to disappear, it is imperative that the support Durham needs
international sport gives a tremendous amount of publicity to a
region, youngsters are inspired by it and, perhaps most crucially,
the passion of North East people for sport in general deserves a
major regular international sporting event. Says David: "What
we are saying to the regional agencies and potential private sector
sponsors is that five-day Test Match coverage effectively brings
ten of millions of pounds in free advertising for the region. In
the absence of any event of this magnitude we must take this opportunity
to deliver sustainable international sport to the region."
contribution that staging international sporting events can make
to promoting the region has been recognised by the regional development
agency, One NorthEast, the organisation having welcomed Durham CCC
as a partner in the region's "Here Now" campaign. The
campaign was devised to promote the best image possible for the
North East, both inside and outside the region.
he is genuinely passionate about bringing regular international
cricket to the region, David also admits that the Cricket Club's
long-term prosperity as a business is tied into how quickly it proves
itself to be one of the best developed and best organised international
grounds on the cricket circuit.
with Test Match grounds can expect up to five times as much income
(and, of course, much higher costs) than those without so it's a
case of the sooner the better as far as further development of the
ground is concerned. The bulk of any money raised from funding would
be put into extending the permanent capacity of the ground from
5,000 to 10,000.
planned developments for the ground include an education and media
centre and an indoor school. It is hoped that the latter will secure
funding from Sport England within the next few weeks. The education
and media centre would provide facilities for the world's media,
classroom provision for local schools and contribute to the increase
in permanent seating.
expects to stage its first Test Match in 2003 with Zimbabwe the
likely opposition, probably in June. Although this wouldn't exactly
generate the same interest as, say, England against Australia at
the height of summer, David Harker is unconcerned. "Clearly
we would love to host such a fixture in the future but if we have
to start with what would be considered a much more modest fixture
so be it. We want to get our foot in the Test Match door and would
approach its promotion and delivery with the same intensity. We
are the first new Test Match venue in England for over 100 years
and we have to start somewhere.
we've shown how successful we can be as a Test Match venue, the
next challenge will be to try and secure more high profile matches.
We will feel the job is complete when we have staged an England
v Australia Ashes match, hopefully with an England side featuring
a number of Durham players."
final words are aimed at you, the supporters: "We value the
support of the North East cricket public but we must not take our
position as an international venue for granted. We are in a competitive
industry and our emergence as a test arena has ruffled feathers
elsewhere. Other grounds will react by improving their arenas and
marketing themselves to secure the best games. We can achieve our
aims if the support and enthusiasm the region's public have shown
for international cricket continues on the scale it has to date."