Emirates Durham ICG
England will be hoping to maintain their perfect Test record at the picturesque venue in County Durham.
Last Updated: 01/07/13 11:40am
For starters, Chester-le-Street is actually a market town in County Durham. In close proximity to both Newcastle and Sunderland, it is steeped in history dating back to Roman times when it was known as Concangis. Having at one stage been considered the centre of Christianity for the north east of England following the building of the church of St Mary and Cuthbert, the town became linked with the coal industry from the late 17th century. Lumley Castle, which can be seen from the cricket ground, was built in the 14th century by Sir Ralph Lumley following his return from wars in Scotland. Having previously been the residence for the Bishop of Durham, it became a hotel in 1976 and has often housed touring teams. It is also known as one of the most haunted places in County Durham - in 2005 Australia all-rounder Shane Watson is reported to have become so spooked that he opted to sleep on the floor in team-mate Brett Lee's room.
The Emirates Durham International Cricket Ground has seen major development since hosting the touring New Zealanders back in 1992. The county were handed first-class status that same year and after playing at a number of venues whilst the County Ground was being worked upon, they finally staged their first match at their new home when they hosted Worcestershire in May 1995. The Don Robson Pavilion was opened by HM the Queen in October 1996, a month after the Durham Cricket Academy was formed. Their first taste of international cricket came during the 1999 World Cup, when they hosted Pakistan v Scotland and Australia v Bangladesh in group games. England played their first ODI at Chester-le-Street the following year and then held a Test at the venue in 2003, defeating Zimbabwe inside three days. In 2010 Durham CCC signed a deal with Emirates that included the company having naming rights of the ground for six years.
England have an impressive record at the ground - played four, won four. Three of those triumphs came with an innings to spare, though closer examination shows that the opponents have been Zimbabwe, Bangladesh and West Indies (twice). It has previously been a strong surface for seamers to impress (local boy Steve Harmison tops the wicket-taking charts with 16), offering bounce and, if the conditions are right, swing. This season, though, the county have had some issues with the scars left by an Aussies Rules exhibition match that took place last November. Uneven bounce has been a problem, whilst the county games have seen spinners prosper. It should make for an entertaining fourth Test by the time England and Australia make it up north.
In a word - none. The two rivals have played three 50-over matches there, Australia triumphing in 2005 before England took a low-scoring affair four years later. The most recent meeting, however, saw the hosts ease to a nine-wicket win last summer, putting them 4-0 up in the series.