was listed as "Item 7: Other Business" in the minutes of
the committee meeting of the Durham County Cricket Club on Monday,
5th December 1988. The minute reads: "The chairman outlined the
discussion which had been held on an informal basis with a group which
was interested in the idea of Durham County forming a first-class
6th December, 1990, the news came through that Durham had indeed
been granted first-class status. On 14th April, 1992, Durham appeared
for the first time as a first-class county. Championship cricket
arrived at the Riverside Stadium in Chester-le-Street on May 18th,
1995, and on 20th May, 1999, the first one-day international was
hosted on the ground with Pakistan playing Scotland in a World Cup
match. There was a sell-out 15,000 crowd when England appeared on
the ground for the first time to play the West Indies in a one-day
international on 15th July, 2000.
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These dates in the development of cricket in Durham will pale into
insignificance, however, when the calendar ticks over to 5th June,
2003. On that day, the Riverside will become the first new Test
ground in England for a hundred years when Zimbabwe will provide
will be a momentous occasion in the short history of Durham County
Cricket Club because, according to chief executive David Harker,
it really raises the clubs status within the game. "We
joined the first-class scene in 1992 and to go from being new members
to becoming a Test venue in 2003 represents great progress. It demonstrates
to the game that is was very worthwhile to bring Durham on board."
as the elevation to first-class status was not only an honour for
Durham but also a boost to the entire north-eastern region, so too
the granting of Test status to the ground in Chester-le-Street represents
a triumph on a regional basis.
terms of the north-east, it is one of the few examples of international
sport that we have in the region. We have Newcastle United in the
Champions League football, but weve actually lost some international
events in athletics and golf. So if you look at the gap between
Leeds and Edinburgh there is very little in terms of real international
this is very good for the image and profile of the whole north-east
region. Its particularly important to us when were looking
for regional support to further develop the ground and establish
the Riverside as a top-class international venue."
have taken on three major developments to the ground. None of them
have reached the contractual stage yet, but they are confidently
expected to move ahead during the course of the winter and to be
well on the way if not complete by the time of the Test.
are joining forces with the district council to develop an indoor
cricket school, going into partnership with a private operator to
establish a health and fitness centre, and they are looking to put
in a 2,000 seater stand which, if not covered immediately, will
have the potential to be covered in future years.
will add to the already impressive facilities that are enhanced
whenever there is an international match by the provision of temporary
seating. The capacity crowd that were there for the England-West
Indies match was increased to 17,200 when England played India in
last seasons NatWest Series match.
the weather interfered with that contest and it was rained off when
there was every possibility of an exciting finish. With the previous
years international being washed out as well, there was more
evidence for those who regard the north-east as always being cold
and wet. However, as David Harker points out, the region enjoys
a drier climate than many others where Test cricket is played in
in the shadow of the Pennines, and therefore youll find the
statistics would say were actually drier than several other
parts of the country notably, of course, Old Trafford. So, although
we cannot give any guarantees on the weather, weve no reason
to expect that it will be very much different from elsewhere."
the original application for first-class status, Durham addressed
the question of climate, anticipating there might be some who regarded
anything north of St. Johns Wood as being the frozen north.
"The Riverside is a relatively sheltered site with no more
rain than Reading (which is on a similar longitude some 250 miles
to the south) and more calm days than Bristol." The weather,
however, is all a matter of luck - just as it is anywhere in the
little bit of luck with the weather is all the groundsman needs
to ensure that the pitch for the Test is perfect. David Measor regards
the preparation of a Test wicket the highest honour he can achieve
in the game, after attracting much favourable attention for his
efforts with the one-day international pitches.
the demand for tickets as it is, a top-class playing surface is
essential. The match needs to go the distance. The public have been
great supporters of the one-day international matches at the Riverside,
and that support is being translated into ticket sales for the Test.
What is particularly pleasing for the Durham authorities is that
sales are not just being made for one day. People are obviously
intent on making an expedition to the north-east and are booking
for two and three days at a time.
5th to 9th will represent a great festival of cricket in the region.
Durham chairman Bill Midgley is looking forward to it immensely.
"Test match cricket in the north-east of England is good for
sport and for the prestige of the region. 2003 is only a start and
we hope to see cricket played at the highest levels at the Riverside
in succeeding years.
depends upon the support of the people of the north-east who have
turned out in large numbers in the past and I trust will show up
again with similar levels of support and encouragement of English
Waterson, chief executive of Chester-le-Street District Council,
said: "Playing host to a Test match is a feather in the cap
of, not only Chester-le-Street, but the entire region. Apart from
the entertainment, this event will stimulate the local economy to
benefit the local community. It does bode well for the future of
cricket in the region, especially if viewed alongside plans to develop
indoor cricket facilities at the Riverside."
the support of the community and the enterprise of Durham County
Cricket Club, there is a whole new sense of excitement about cricket
in the north-east - the like of which has only been seen by the
elevation of Durham to first-class status. June 5th should be a
date that every follower of the game will want to write in the diary
now. It is guaranteed to be a great occasion.
countdown to the north-east's first ever Test match has begun, 5th
- 9th June, 2003. Tickets are on general sale now priced at £25
for adults for the first four days. Under 16s can purchase tickets
for the first three days for £10 and £5 for the Sunday.
Be part of history. Call 0191 387 5151 or buy online.