Durham Cricket Club was founded officially in 1882, though it didn’t achieve first class status until 1991. Durham is, in fact, the newest county to officially enter English cricket and is the only addition in the last 70 years.
The club represents the county of Durham in the North East, and is based at the Riverside Stadium, Chester-le-street, in the city of Durham. The ground was recently incorporated into the English International Test circuit and staged its first test match between England and Zimbabwe, from 5th to 7th, June 2003.
The Early Years
Cricket was slow in spreading as far north as Durham. Though it is believed that the earliest reference to cricket in the county was a game between the Earl of Northumberland’s XI and the Duke of Cleveland’s XI that reportedly took place in the spectacular setting of Raby Castle on August 5th 1751. The first officially recorded game of cricket within the county of Durham took place near a century later, in Sunderland in 1848 between the All England XII and Bishopwearmouth 22.
The first team to carry the name of ‘Durham County’ played a series of games in the late 1870s and very early 1880s. The team did in fact take on the touring Australians on two occasions; winning by 71 runs in 1878 and losing by an innings and 38 runs two years later, after a legendary performance by Fred Spofforth, who took 17 wickets for 66.
After Durham CCC was eventually founded on 23rd May 1882, the club played, and won, its first match against Northumberland by 4 wickets on June 12th of the same year. However, the team were to remain a ‘minor’ side for more than 100 years before beginning the application process to become a first class county in 1989, and join the County Championship. Finally, first class status was awarded on the 6th December 1991. Their first season in the County Championship was the 1992 season.
County Cricket – Greatest Moments
From their foundation in the year 1882, until gaining status as a first class county in 1991, Durham built a strong reputation as a formidable ‘minor’ team. Indeed, many of their greatest moments belong to this era outside of top flight cricket.
Before being instated as a first class side, Durham achieved a host of records. They were the first minor county to beat a first class county in the Gillette Cup, they won the Minor Counties Championship a record-equalling seven times between 1901 and 1984, and put together a record of 65 matches without defeat between 1976 and 1982 – a record that is unbroken to the present day.
Since their induction into first class English cricket, Durham have enjoyed very mixed success. In the 2004 season, they finished bottom place in the second division of the County Championship. However, the following season they dramatically managed second place in the division and gained promotion both in the County Championship and One-Day cricket league. The sudden change of fate for Durham was largely attributable to the arrival of Australian Mike Hussey in 2005, who captained the club to success that season. The following season, Hussey was unable to return to the Riverside, as he was recalled by the Australian National side.
As such, in 2006, Dale Benkenstein took on the captaincy of the side and Durham managed to finish second in the North Division of the C&G Trophy. Successes this season were, unfortunately, very mixed. In the same season, they narrowly, and somewhat miraculously, avoided relegation from the Championship division. With very mediocre results in the middle of the season, Durham were left hanging dangerously one place, and half a point, above the relegation zone. After an amazing and nerve-racking bout with rivals and relegation-threatened Yorkshire, Durham managed to pull out a draw, rescued by a record breaking partnership between Benkenstein and Gibbon of 315 runs. Incredibly a final twist came when both Durham and Yorkshire were subsequently saved, and Nottingham relegated.
Arguably the highest point in the history of Durham County Cricket Club came in August of 2007, when they won their first major trophy in first class county cricket, beating Hampshire in the final of the Friends Provident Trophy at Lord’s by 125 runs.
Recently, a considerable number of great players have passed through Durham’s ranks.
Paul Collingwood is a great all rounder who has been a regular in the England Test squad and in fact, captains the One Day International team. He is a great strokeplayer with the bat, and a very capable medium paced right arm bowler, but above all, is widely regarded as one of the greatest fielders in the history of the game. At County level, he was the the first Durham player to hit a Test century and also a double century.
Durham player and top England fast bowler Steve Harmison has played for his county for over 10 years now at a professional level. He made his Test debut against India on the 8th August 2002. On the Winter tour of 2003 against the West Indies his true moment of glory came when he took seven wickets for only 12 runs, leaving the Windies with their lowest score of all time, only 47 all out!
Undoubtedly the greatest player to have ever played for Durham CCC is Ian Botham. He joined County newcomers Durham in their first season as a First class side (1992), but retired mid-way through the 1993 season.
Botham was, however, one of the greatest players in the history of the game. A statistic that particularly stands out from his long and distinguished career is that he was the the fastest all rounder (in terms of matches) to achieve the "doubles" of 1,000 runs and 100 wickets, 2,000 runs and 200 wickets, and 3,000 runs and 300 wickets.
One Day Cricket
Durham CCC have regrettably not been very successful in One day competition. In 2004, they finished in sixth place out of ten teams in the one-day National Cricket League, and fifth out of six teams in the Northern Division of the Twenty20 Cup.
In 2006, history repeated itself somewhat in Twenty20 competition, as Durham were poor in the Twenty20 Cup, finishing last in the North Division and only recording two victories, both of which were against Lancashire.
Tel: 0844 499 4466
Alternatively, if you live near the ground, tickets can be bought directly from the Durham ticket office. The Riverside Stadium is located next to the River Wear and can be approached by exiting the A1 (M) at Junction 63, following signs for ‘Riverside stadium’. The exact route is shown on the following map.