THE proud parents of England and County Durham cricket star Paul Collingwood last night described their joy at watching their son bat his way into sporting history.

The all-rounder was the first Englishman for more than 70 years to score a Test double century in Australia.

David and Janet Collingwood spoke as their son admitted he had always had his sights on a big score after helping England seize control of the second Ashes Test.

Mr Collingwood, who watched the game at his home in Consett, County Durham, said: "Every ball is nail-biting when you are a parent. You can never relax. It gets a bit easier after 40 to 50 runs.

"We stayed up all night to watch him until 7.30am. We are all absolutely elated with the result."

The couple have been Paul's keenest fans since he started his rise to stardom, when he was nine and selected for Shotley Bridge Cricket Club's under-13s team.

By 13, he was playing for the under-18s at Shotley Bridge and his talent attracted the attention of Durham County Cricket Club.

Mr Collingwood, who is still an active member of the Shotley Bridge club, said: "For something like this to happen for a small village cricket club, this is absolutely extraordinary."

Collingwood progressed from an unbeaten 98 overnight to hit 206 and share in a 310-run stand with Kevin Pietersen, which helped England declare on 551 for six.

His innings, which lasted eight hours, was the tenth highest Ashes score by an England player, and the partnership was England's fifth highest in Ashes history.

"It's been a good day for us," said Collingwood, who missed out on an Ashes century by four runs during the opening Test in Brisbane.

"I turned up this morning with a few nerves, needing a couple of runs for my century, but it wasn't just a century I was looking at - I wanted to make a big one.

"To get the double hundred meant a lot to me. I didn't sleep well last night and it felt like I was up about every 20 minutes, but I managed to get enough and it was nice to get past those three figures and focus on the job in hand."