ONE of the world’s greatest cricketers left young fans starstruck as he dropped in to a North-East school for a charity match today (Friday, May 9).

Veteran Sri Lankan superstar Kumar Sangakkara, who has signed a short-term contract with Durham County Cricket Club, rubbed shoulders with pupils as he donned his pads for a 20-over game at Durham School.

All smiles, the 36-year-old posed for pictures and chatted with guests; ahead of travelling to Sussex for Durham’s four-day LV County Championship match which starts on Sunday (May 11).

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Today’s match was part of a benefit year of Durham players Gareth Breese and Gordon Muchall.

A Durham Legends side featuring former West Indies captain Shivnarine Chanderpaul, former West Indian bowler-turned-coach Ottis Gibson and Shotley Bridge-born Neil Killeen took on the Durham Jets, the county’s Twenty 20 team, who included Phil Mustard and Graham Onions in their line-up, along with Breese and Muchall.

The match was staged at Durham School as Muchall is a former pupil and now a cricket coach there; and he and Breese, together known as the G Force, opened the batting, facing Gibson from the School End as the sun shone down and dozens of fans lined the Quarryheads Lane field.

Organisers were hoping for a crowd of around 700; and 140 guests enjoyed an afternoon tea and auction before the sport began.

The match is just one of several events in the G Force 14 year, which will benefit the North East Autism Society, Macmillan Cancer Support and the Professional Cricketers’ Association Benevolent Fund.

Breese and Muchall have already taken part in a zip-wire from the roof of the Stadium of Light.

A gala dinner will be held at Ramside Hall Hotel, near Durham, on Wednesday, June 18, featuring West Indies legend Michael Holding. Tickets are £350 for tables of ten.

A one-day match between Durham and Middlesex, a family fun day, a golf day and a beer festival featuring former England spinner Graeme Swann and his band are also planned.

For more information and a full list of events, visit gforce14.co.uk or follow twitter.com/gforce14benefit