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Perfect end to Durham's super sporting summer
THERE were celebrations on and off the pitch as Durham claimed cricket’s county championship for the third time in six years today (Thursday, September 19).
Mark Stoneman’s winning four sparked joyous scenes at Chester-le-Street’s Emirates International Cricket Ground.
And while it meant disappointment for title rivals Yorkshire, plaudits quickly followed, with Durham County Council leader Simon Henig hailing an “outstanding” season.
This third championship title for a club which made its first class debut just 21 years ago was particularly sweet as it was led by captain Paul Collingwood, born in Shotley Bridge, near Consett, and starred local products Stoneman, Scott Borthwick and others.
Coach Geoff Cook, who has done so much to make Durham CCC a success, was also able to return from a mid-season heart attack to resume partial duties and witness today’s victory.
It is also remarkable given the club flirted with relegation last season and was widely written off from challenging for honours this summer.
And it is a perfect end to a season which saw Durham host its first Ashes Test – a match which ended with England clinching a series victory in sensational style.
Coun Henig, who represents a Chester-le-Street ward, said: “Many congratulations to everyone at the club, both the players and the many people behind the scenes who have made the club’s performance so outstanding again this season.
“2013 is very much Durham’s year, with the huge success of the Ashes Test in Chester-le-Street and the many benefits that international profile has brought to the club and the county as a whole.
“This success is very well deserved and brings a fantastic cricketing year in County Durham to a suitable close.”
Melanie Sensicle, chief executive of Visit County Durham, said: “Durham’s reputation as a friendly place that welcomes everyone has been cemented.
“Durham has proved that we can host enormous events and that bodes well for the future.”
After a spring which saw the club make an urgent appeal for nearly £6m in public funding, the summer Ashes Test brought in an estimated £20m for the regional economy and the onset of autumn has brought the prize that can’t be bought: on-the-field success.
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