A day out at Durham County Cricket Club

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One of the biggest draws of County Durham is the success of the County Championship cricket team. Tucked into Chester-le-Street, the Seat Unique Riverside is home to the team, but has hosted such prestigious events as Ashes tests and T20 internationals. As it was so close by, I considered it essential visiting for myself as a Durham student and sports fanatic.

I travelled on a Friday to see the first day of the County Championship match between Durham and Somerset. Durham, having been promoted from the second tier last season, boast a strong squad at the moment, comprised of such stars as Ben Stokes, Mark Wood, and Peter Siddle. They’ve only lost one game from their seven so far this season.

Somerset boasted an identical record but placed above Durham in the table thanks to their points total, such are the quirks of England’s premier test cricket competition. Jack Leach was the name that leapt out from the teamsheet to me as a casual cricket fan as I was familiar with his stoic performances in test internationals.

The knock of cork on willow punctuated gentle conversation amongst partners, friends, and fans

The size of the arena impressed me, but very few of the seats were taken. Fridays don’t allow for as much public attendance, of course. Instead, the atmosphere was far more relaxed than previous sporting events I had been in attendance for. The knock of cork on willow punctuated gentle conversation amongst partners, friends, and fans in the crowd. Players’ conversations could also be made out for the discerning ear, revealing interesting insights into dynamics amongst the team and with the opposition.

Having put Somerset in to bat, Durham worked diligently down the order. Somerset’s number nine, Migael Pretorius put up a valiant 53 runs to make his team’s highest score, before being unusually felled by a bouncer and leaving the field. Jake Ball came on as the concussion substitute. To me, it was the privilege of watching Ben Stokes that brought me to the ground. The 2019 Sports Personality of the Year, England captain, and living legend was only matter of metres from my watching eyes, so close to my university and in front of only a smattering of spectators. You couldn’t help but wonder whether he was feeling a little let down by his surroundings.

I would encourage anyone remotely considering it to find a day to travel to Chester-le-Street and experience first class cricket on your doorstep

Eventually, Somerset were all out for a miserly 171 runs and the Durham openers took to the wicket. Despite tentative batting resulting in the top three in the order accumulating 13 runs, David Bedingham’s swift century ironed out any problems Somerset may have caused the home side. I had transferred myself to a higher vantage point and was enjoying being able to track the ball all the way down the wicket without the sun causing havoc.

Amusingly, Stokes went for a duck. He would rectify this on the Saturday by taking four wickets as Somerset failed to chase down Durham’s total, before Durham even needed their second innings.

Dark clouds had gathered over our heads by the time the public address system decreed the day’s play had concluded and it was with great satisfaction that I peeled myself over my seat. Cricket has always been held as an idyll in my mind; played in front of kindly sarcastic crowds and perfect deep green pitches. To rekindle my acquaintance with the sport has been a great pleasure to me over the last couple of weeks, and I would encourage anyone remotely considering it to find a day to travel to Chester-le-Street and experience first class cricket on your doorstep.

You would be a fool not to.

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