THE elevation of Chester-le-Street to the international sporting stage is being celebrated by local schoolchildren.

Durham County Cricket Club's Riverside ground, in the town, is busy preparing for the most high profile game in its ten-year history.

The much-anticipated England v Australia day/night one-day international, in the NatWest Series, next Thursday, has been a sell-out for more than a month.

Extra seating has been added to increase capacity at the country's newest Test-match venue to 16,000.

It follows the successful recent staging of the England v Bangladesh npower Test, which attracted full houses for the first two days, despite petering out with an easy home win shortly into the third day.

Schoolchildren from the area have been helping to prepare the ground, having produced special banners in a collaboration with Chester-le-Street District Council.

Professional banner artists Nicola Balfour and David Daniells visited eight local schools and the Selby Cottage Childcare Unit in Chester-le-Street to help the youngsters with their designs.

It resulted in the production of 15 medium scale banners, representing the schools/groups taking part as well as the countries competing in international cricket.

The programme was rounded off with a celebratory workshop day at the Riverside ground, on Wednesday.

Certificates were presented to participating schools by Chester-le-Street council leader Linda Ebbatson and chairman Alan Turner. It also featured a silk painting event plus Afro-Cuban music and dance.

The banners will greet fans arriving on the approach to the ground from Ropery Lane, next Thursday.