IT’S a crying shame that there’s not going to be an Ashes Test match north of Nottingham next year.
The ECB’s announcement this week that the five 2015 matches will be played at Lord’s, Trent Bridge, Oval, Cardiff and Edgbaston is a bit of a kick in the teeth for the rest of the country.
Fair enough, we at Durham didn’t bid for a Test this time around, having hosted one last year, but traditional grounds like Old Trafford and Headingley haven’t been awarded one.
It’s a blow not only for the fans, but also the communities as well.
Not just that, but both Headingley and Old Trafford – like Durham – often favour English bowlers, with the ball seaming around, so why not use them to your advantage? When England were in Australia, the home side prepared hard, bouncy pitches, which suited their bowlers.
It’s almost like we want to play into their hands.
But it’s the cricket lovers in the north who will suffer the most.
These days, it’s an expensive business going to cricket matches. If anyone from the region wants to go and watch one of the Ashes Tests next year, they will have to dig deep in their pockets.
It’s not just the hundreds of pounds for the tickets, but also hundreds of pounds for train travel too, and hotels.
And then there’s the money that it brings into the community as well. I haven’t got exact figures, but County Durham made a significant amount last year through the tourism and knock-on effect of having an Ashes Test at Chester-le-Street.
Durham showed what it can be like when you take Tests to different venues.
There was an incredible atmosphere at the Riverside last year when the Aussies came to play, and it was great to see the ground full with supporters old and young alike.
The club won a couple of awards for hosting Test matches too, and showed what a success it can be. We put on a great show, and put on an exciting Test match that swung both ways.
Never mind the Ashes, it was great to just have our home ground as an international venue.
There’s lots of counties, which are much older than us, who have never been in a position where they can host international games.
We might not have an Ashes Test, but the Emirates ICG will host New Zealand in a T20 game on June 20 next year.
And don’t forget, Sri Lanka visit Chester-le-Street in a couple of weeks for a one-day international as well (Sunday, May 25).
Durham, as a county club, has only been going for 20 years, so to have made those massive steps in such a short space of time is a major achievement for all the people who have worked so hard to make it possible.
WE’RE all ready now to have a Blast!
It’s T20 time already, with our first game on Friday at home against the Worcestershire Royals (5.30pm).
The competition has something of a new look this year and it’s very exciting. In previous years, if you got on a bad run it was very hard to get off, because the games were coming thick and fast, but now there’s a bit more time to catch your breath.
The games aren’t crammed into a month – there’s a bit of time now between matches where you can work on your skills and tactics.
It could cause some problems as well, though.
I’ve often found it hard to go back to four-day cricket after playing T20, so it will be interesting to see how players go about it.
Because a Championship game can come straight after a T20 match, players will need to adapt quickly, and change styles and mentality.
The Jets, of course, had their first run-out last week in our benefit game against a Durham Legends side, who nicked the win with the last ball of the game.
We had a fantastic day, and hit lucky with the weather.
We were delighted to see everyone come out and enjoy it, and we want to say a big ‘thank you’ to everyone who turned out to make it such a success, from the public, to the volunteers at the charities and the players.
Shiv Chanderpaul drove up from Derby for the game, then drove straight back again afterwards, but that’s just typical of him and shows what a top bloke he is.
At least he missed out on the several bottles of rum that Breezy opened afterwards!
H The next GForce14 event is a gala dinner with Michael Holding at Ramside Hall, with tables of 10 costing £350.
See gforce14.co.uk for more details.