Durham's Riverside ground at Chester-le-Street has been awarded Test match status with effect from 2003 and could host its first Test against Zimbabwe in May of that year.
The England and Wales Cricket Board chief executive Tim Lamb said: "I am delighted for Durham. This is recognition of the forward-looking and progressive way in which the county has developed since achieving first-class status only 10 years ago.
"Chester-le-Street will be a magnificent setting for Test match cricket and will further help to galvanise the enthusiasm for cricket that exists in the north-east of England."
Durham's chairman Bill Midgley was equally excited, adding: "Everyone at Durham County Cricket Club has worked very hard to justify our selection as a potential Test match venue and we all look forward to staging our first Test match."
Ian Botham, who played for the county from 1992 to 1993, said: "I'm absolutely delighted. I've always said Durham has the best wicket in the country, and we've seen some of the best games ever on that pitch."Reuse content