DURHAM County Cricket Club has unveiled ambitious plans to create a new training centre to nurture future generations of world-class talent.
The current county champions aim to raise £100,000 to fund the First Class Futures initiative.
Improvements lined up would see a nursery ground built next to the Emirates International Ground at the Riverside in Chester-le-Street.
The ground will include a professional standard pitch, allowing youth and women’s teams the chance to get match time, as well as providing a permanent home for Durham’s second XI.
It is hoped that it will help academy players develop into England stars – as the likes of Paul Collingwood, Steve Harmison and Ben Stokes have done over the past decade – rather than allowing home-grown players to leave the club to pursue careers elsewhere.
Club chief executive David Harker said: “We are working with the council to identify a potential site adjacent to the stadium and part of the riverside sports complex.
“It would allow us to create a centre for excellence and a headquarters for cricket development in the region.
“In any sport, the end result depends on the quality of the coaching and the amount of time available for practice.
“At present, there is a very limited opportunity for coaching. In particular, women and girls suffer in terms of access to facilities.”
Durham became a first-class county in 1992, going on to win the county championship title in 2008, 2009 and 2013.
The Chester-le-Street ground, opened in 1995, hosted an Ashes test match for the first time last year.