On the Front Foot: Durham look to left field to capture their place in history


Durham are plainly aware of the historic nature of this Ashes Test match. Sensing perhaps that the like may not pass this way again, they are intent on seeing that it is properly commemorated.

David Downes, the meticulous and inspired landscape artist who drew the buildings of the London Olympics as they developed, has been commissioned to capture the ground in all its glory. "This is an opportunity to make a lasting impression of a truly significant occasion in the life of this region," he said.

In some ways, Downes is an odd choice. He is a Londoner, via Suffolk, who has no particular affinity with the north east and it must have been tempting for Durham to hire a painter from the region. But his track record is enviable and apart from his Olympics work he was once BBC artist in residence.

Durham are making the most of his involvement by offering limited-edition prints of his work to those who donate to their new First Class Futures programme, designed to raise £1 million in the next year for a new nursery ground.

If Downes was a slightly surprising appointment, the American-born former basketball player, Ben Markovits, was also a left-field choice as Ashes writer in residence. Markovits, who is new to the game, will write a piece detailing his Ashes experience, to be revealed at the Durham Book Festival in October. He is on this year's Granta list of best young British novelists and initial reports by Durham suggest that "he brings some fascinating new perspectives".

There is a robust determination hereabouts to ensure that they make the most of this sporting opportunity and also to ensure that it is recognised when future big games are allocated.

Regeneration game

Until 20 years ago the site on which the Fourth Test is being played was a patch of scrubland off the A1(M). It has become part of a modern sporting complex, but the question is what to call it?

The charming original name was the Riverside, by which all locals still know it. When ground-naming rights became necessary two years ago there was a change. But instead of incorporating the old name (as The Oval and Old Trafford have done) Durham went for a complete rebrand. The venue, for the moment, is a mouthful – officially the Emirates Durham International Cricket Ground. It probably will not last.

The Kennington Oval is in its fourth manifestation, renewed more often than Dr Who. There is no truth in the suggestion that it is soon to be the Peter Capaldi Oval.

Experience counts

This is the most experienced England team to have played in a Test match. Between them the players have 650 caps, 11 more than the team which played at Old Trafford, which was 11 more than the team at Lord's. In these days of continuity, continuity, continuity experience is easy to come by.

Of the 20 most experienced England sides, 19 took the field in the last two years. The exception is the team which played at The Oval against Australia in 2001. It is peculiar that it should be as high as 20th since it contained Usman Afzaal and James Ormond, who won only three and two caps respectively.

Ashes on safe ground

This is the 15th ground on which an Ashes Test has been played, the ninth in Britain and the second new venue in four years following the match at Cardiff in 2009. All except the Brisbane Exhibition Ground, where Don Bradman made his debut and which staged two Tests, and Bramall Lane, Sheffield, are still in use.


Have you tried new the Independent Digital Edition apps?
Caption competition
Caption competition
  • Get to the point
Latest stories from i100
Daily Quiz
Have you tried new the Independent Digital Edition apps?
Independent Dating

By clicking 'Search' you
are agreeing to our
Terms of Use.

Career Services

Day In a Page

General Election 2015: ‘We will not sit down with Nicola Sturgeon’, says Ed Balls

'We will not sit down with Nicola Sturgeon'

In an exclusive interview, Ed Balls says he won't negotiate his first Budget with SNP MPs - even if Labour need their votes to secure its passage
VE Day 70th anniversary: How ordinary Britons celebrated the end of war in Europe

How ordinary Britons celebrated VE Day

Our perception of VE Day usually involves crowds of giddy Britons casting off the shackles of war with gay abandon. The truth was more nuanced
They came in with William Caxton's printing press, but typefaces still matter in the digital age

Typefaces still matter in the digital age

A new typeface once took years to create, now thousands are available at the click of a drop-down menu. So why do most of us still rely on the old classics, asks Meg Carter?
Discovery of 'missing link' between the two main life-forms on Earth could explain evolution of animals, say scientists

'Missing link' between Earth's two life-forms found

New microbial species tells us something about our dark past, say scientists
Ronald McDonald the muse? Why Banksy, Ron English and Keith Coventry are lovin' Maccy D's

Ronald McDonald the muse

A new wave of artists is taking inspiration from the fast food chain
13 best picnic blankets

13 best picnic blankets

Dine al fresco without the grass stains and damp bottoms with something from our pick of picnic rugs
General Election 2015: Ed Miliband's unlikely journey from hapless geek to heart-throb

Miliband's unlikely journey from hapless geek to heart-throb

He was meant to be Labour's biggest handicap - but has become almost an asset
General Election 2015: A guide to the smaller parties, from the the National Health Action Party to the Church of the Militant Elvis Party

On the margins

From Militant Elvis to Women's Equality: a guide to the underdogs standing in the election
Amr Darrag: Ex-Muslim Brotherhood minister in exile still believes Egypt's military regime can be replaced with 'moderate' Islamic rule

'This is the battle of young Egypt for the future of our country'

Ex-Muslim Brotherhood minister Amr Darrag still believes the opposition can rid Egypt of its military regime and replace it with 'moderate' Islamic rule, he tells Robert Fisk
Why patients must rely less on doctors: Improving our own health is the 'blockbuster drug of the century'

Why patients must rely less on doctors

Improving our own health is the 'blockbuster drug of the century'
Sarah Lucas is the perfect artist to represent Britain at the Venice Biennale

Flesh in Venice

Sarah Lucas has filled the British pavilion at the Venice Biennale with slinky cats and casts of her female friends' private parts. It makes you proud to be a woman, says Karen Wright
11 best anti-ageing day creams

11 best anti-ageing day creams

Slow down the ageing process with one of these high-performance, hardworking anti-agers
Juventus 2 Real Madrid 1: Five things we learnt, including Iker Casillas is past it and Carlos Tevez remains effective

Juventus vs Real Madrid

Five things we learnt from the Italian's Champions League first leg win over the Spanish giants
Ashes 2015: Test series looks a lost cause for England... whoever takes over as ECB director of cricket

Ashes series looks a lost cause for England...

Whoever takes over as ECB director of cricket, says Stephen Brenkley
Fishing for votes with Nigel Farage: The Ukip leader shows how he can work an audience as he casts his line to the disaffected of Grimsby

Fishing is on Nigel Farage's mind

Ukip leader casts a line to the disaffected