SIR Ian Botham is determined to bring a Test match back to Chester-le-Street. But it will not he held in May.

Among the sanctions imposed on Durham following their bail-out by the ECB was the loss of Test match status for the ground they were encouraged to build by the governing body.

Last May's loss-making Test against Sri Lanka added to the club's financial woes, and Botham said: “With everything else going on around here at the end of the football season, having a Test in May didn't give us a chance.

“We have a magnificent ground here and we want to see it full again, but I wouldn't take a Test in May. This isn't like London and common sense must prevail.”

At a press conference to launch his chairmanship of the club where he ended his glittering career in 1993, Botham made it clear that he will not be an ECB puppet.

“We want to be independent and we are free to do what we want,” he said. “It's a level playing field, apart from the deduction of 48 points. But we will take that on the chin. We are now in a healthy position and everyone sees the sense of working together.

“We are slowly getting a board together and are trying to get the right mix. The first year will be the most difficult for me because my diary is full for 12-18 months and I will honour my commitments because that's the sort of person I am.

“But I want to be here as much as I can and even when I'm on the other side of the world I'm only a phone call away.”

Although 1,500 people have signed a petition protesting about the punishment handed out to Durham, Botham said he sees no point in fighting the points deductions.

“I'm well aware of public feeling,” he said. “We can sit here and whinge about it or we can say 48 points is two wins and the team are good enough to get those early on.

“It's the best motivation the players could have and the fact that they have stuck together shows their intent. Keaton Jennings was only too pleased to stay on and everybody in the North East is pleased that he has.

“If we hadn't gone down this route we could be playing Minor Counties cricket, but we are still playing first-class and I feel the club can prosper.”

The man whose famous onslaught on the Australian attack snatched victory from the jaws of defeat in the 1981 Headingley Test has never shirked a challenge, which is his main reason for taking on the Durham role.

“A lot of people I know are surprised I'm doing it, but the ones who really matter know I have been in the game all my life and I'm keen to give a fair bit back.

“People were talking to me about getting involved at the end of last season and the more I thought about it the more interested I got.

“I'm not going into this half-cock. I live in the area and I regard myself as a local. It was an honour to play in the first Durham team in 1992. We were playing at club grounds like Darlington and some people thought that would continue, so it's amazing to see what the club has achieved since then.

“It's an interesting journey and it's been fun for me getting involved. I've nailed just about everyone in cricket for advice and I've even been learning things about corporate law.

“It's a whole new world. I'm 61, I love working for Sky and and I'm heavily involved in the game. This is a new challenge and I like a challenge.

“I won't be interfering with the cricket. We have a good coaching set-up and the players don't want an old codger like me telling them what to do. But I'll go in the dressing room and encourage them.

“They are good enough to get Durham back up where they belong very quickly. The people here deserve to have a good team and I hope to see them lifting that trophy again in a couple of years.”

Durham yesterday announced that Royal Caribbean will be the club’s official travel partner for the next two years. The cruise holiday company's logo will feature on Durham’s Specsavers County Championship shirt.

New Durham chairman, Botham, said: “Royal Caribbean is a valued partner of the club and this new agreement takes our relationship to another level. They have built a reputation for innovation and we are very pleased to be associated with the brand.”