Riverside passes its ticket test

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The Independent Online

Durham expect to be told next month whether the Riverside Ground at Chester-Le-Street will be backed by the England and Wales Cricket Board as a venue for Test cricket. That the weather is not on their side is perhaps inevitable for a ground on the same line of latitude as southern Sweden.

Saturday's Australia-Pakistan international was abandoned without a ball bowled although, significantly for Durham's ambitions, all 12,000 seats had long since been sold. While attempts to take Test cricket to the North-East have met with opposition from Headingley and Old Trafford, the bottom line is that Durham can guarantee to sell tickets.

The club's chief executive, David Harker, pointed out: "The only valid comparison you can make is with the other Australia-Pakistan match at Cardiff. They have a capacity of 10,000 and were 500 short; we sold our last ticket two Thursdays ago.'' As the majority of that crowd sheltered in the murk, it was perhaps not the best time to announce that tickets for next July's floodlit international between England and India were now on sale.

For that match, capacity will be increased to 17,000, which will put the Riverside above Trent Bridge and Headingley and just below The Oval ­ one of only two grounds to pull in more spectators than Chester-Le-Street for last season's NatWest Series."I have yet to see any credible argument why we should not have Test cricket here,'' said Harker. "The demand is overwhelming.''

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