England's youngest cricketing county will realise a 20-year dream tomorrow, when it hosts the fourth Test of the 2013 Ashes series.
Six years have flown by since the last five-day game was played there, but now - after losing out to Cardiff in 2009 - Durham is to finally host a match in the most traditional of Test series.
It is a brilliant story for a side that only joined the County Championship in 1992, and which didn't even have a home for its first few seasons in the professional game. Since its inception as a major county, the North Eastern team has never lacked any ambition though.
One of the North East's most famous cricketing sons, Paul Collingwood, has been quoted in the Telegraph, discussing Friday's main event.
“I was at school taking a petition around getting people to sign it so the club could go ahead with building the stadium,” the Durham captain reminisced.
The ground at Chester-le-Street was ready for cricket from 1995, and hosted its first international game when England held the World Cup at the end of the last century. From then it has been a whirlwind for fans in the area.
A Test game first arrived in 2003 when Zimbabwe toured. Subsequent late spring series have travelled north in 2005 and 2007, with Bangladesh and the West Indies the respective visitors.
But after waiting a while for a fourth five-day game, Durham have hit the big time with an Ashes Test.
Collingwood added: “We’ve had international cricket for some time now, but there is international cricket and there is Ashes cricket. It has been an incredible journey.”
The former England all-rounder certainly played his part in raising the region's standing in the game. A glittering England career with a Test average of over 40 showed that players from the area can be national stars, despite Durham's shorter history.
“When I was growing up, I wanted to play first-class cricket, but unlike those before me I’ve been able to stay in the North East my whole career.
“I’ve had a lot of memorable moments, but this will be up there with any of them.”
It is obvious that Durham still holds a high place in his heart, which would have made his century against the West Indies on his home ground in 2007 even sweeter to savour.
He may not be competing over the next five days, but he is sure to enjoy them with a real sense of pride that the Durham International Cricket ground is hosting such a prestigious sporting event.
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