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Sachin set to light up the North East on 4th July

Thursday, July 4th is a date that always brings excitement in Washington and all around. Only this year, it is not Washington DC that will have a monopoly on celebrations. Washington CD - or County Durham - will be THE place for celebrations. In fact, you will have to travel down the A1(M) from Washington to Chester-le-Street to be precise, for it is there that the Riverside ground stages its first one-day international under floodlights when England meet India.

It marks another step in the amazing advance of the ground, and of cricket in the north-east. In the decade - and that is all it is - since Durham became the 18th first-class county, there has been a transformation of the cricketing landscape in that part of the country. Interest in the game has grown out of all proportion, hundreds more schools are playing cricket now than was the case pre-1992, while the development of the ground itself has come on in leaps and bounds until it is the fully-fledged international cricket stadium that we now see and which has been accredited with Test status.

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The ground staged World Cup cricket in 1999 and in 2000 and 2001 it staged matches in the NatWest Series of one-day internationals. These matches have become part of the sporting heritage of the North Eeast. Temporary grandstands are erected and, when England are playing, they are full of people who know how to enjoy their sporting spectacles. And a one-day international under lights will be a fantastic spectacle.

Talk about seeing stars! You will not have to look up but simply out into the middle to see some of the biggest names in cricket. There is none bigger than Sachin Tendulkar. It is not an overstatement to say that the very ground he walks on is worshipped by his legion of fans. Then add the likes of VVX Laxman, Rahul Dravid, Sourav Ganguly, Anil Kumble. The list on the Indian side goes on and one.

But let's not forget those in the England line-up. Nasser Hussain is now recognised as one of the shrewdest - if not the shrewdest skippers in world cricket. Darren Gough is coming back to fitness after a knee operation but never gives less than one hundred per cent. Marcus Trescothick and Nick Knight are capable of destroying any attack in the world as opening batsmen. You cannot leave Alec Stewart out of any list of stars, and don't forget Durham's very own Paul Collingwood.

These names are box office anywhere in the world, and you will have to be quick to get tickets to be there as part of a great north-eastern sporting occasion.

See the stars and the fireworks at the greatest July 4th celebrations this side of the Atlantic.

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