PAUL COLLINGWOOD is sat in the pavilion at Emirates Riverside. As he looks across the wicket, towards the dramatic backdrop of Lumley Castle standing out, it’s a view he’s admired thousands of times.

The Durham stalwart has just turned 41 and is in his 21st year as part of the squad. It’s his club, his domain, his patch.

No-one has done more for the club than Collingwood. Since making his first class bow in 1996, he’s racked up runs, wickets and accolades galore.

When he walks out at his home ground on Sunday, August 20 it will be a game with a difference. The Riverside has hosted its share of events; none quite like this one planned.

A Sunderland die-hard, part of Collingwood’s testimonial year at Durham involves a Sunderland v Newcastle T20 game.

Red and white against black and white. Peter Reid against Kevin Keegan. Football rivalries transferred to the wicket.

“It’s something different, the chance to get cricketers into shorts for a start. Sunderland and Newcastle strips, with Kevin Keegan and Peter Reid taking charge,’’ he reflected.

“I’m trying to get as many of the T20 World Cup winning side involved too. Ryan Sidebottom is playing, Tim Bresnan, Luke Wright and I’m trying to get KP too.

“Not only that, but players I have played with in my career – Phil Mustard, Mark Stoneman, Scotty Borthwick are coming back, John Hastings too. I’m starting to get a feel for it.

“Obviously I’m trying to get the Sunderland team stronger and if KP comes up then I know who he is playing for…..

“I want to make it competitive and a good event, put a show on for the fans who turn up.’’

Collingwood made his Durham bow back in 1996. Before then he had spent many a hour at Shotley Bridge, where his brothers and father all played.

For all his global profile, stints in the IPL, racking up a double century in the Ashes down under, he’s never forgotton his North-East roots.

“The club were brilliant in helping get this off the ground and I’ve been playing here for 21 years, for them to allow us to play here and use the ground it gave us the chance to do something special - not just a normal T20,’’ he said.

“I’m very proud of the North-East and what it is all about. Sunderland and Newcastle are a big part of that in terms of football and sport.

“And we are doing this in football strips, wicketkeepers in goalkeeper green, umpires as referees so it’s going to be something.

“I wanted to say thanks to the fans as well. It’s amazing how they turn up throughout and I want them to enjoy a real relaxed, fun day and we can engage in them during the day.

“It will be fun, with music, a tepee, good fun, good entertainment for everyone.’’

Keegan and Reid epitomised the North-East football scene in Durham’s formative first-class years.

They both lifted and revived their respective clubs, figureheads adored by fans.

Collingwood added: “It’s not going to be difficult to pick the teams – people will be passionate about playing for the team they support. Mark Stoneman, for example, is going to have to wear black and white, but I’m sure Scotty Borthwick will be playing for Sunderland.

“It’s something (football) you think divides the North-East, but both teams are a huge part of the region. It will be competitive, not too competitive, but a lot of fun too.

“Having Kevin Keegan and Peter Reid involved, I’m looking forward to their team talks before the game for sure! Having them involved adds to it.

“Having Reidy coming back will be great. I love his passion and his enthusiasm.

“Meet the guy and you realise and understand why he’s been so successful. He’s passionate about Sunderland and very infectious to be around.

“I remember going to a game at the Stadium of Light and he invited me into the manager’s office before a game. I couldn’t believe how relaxed he was, laughing, joking. ‘Get yourself a beer Colly’ and as you can imagine this was ten minutes before going out for kick-off. I couldn’t believe it!

“To have him and Kevin Keegan involved, two North-East legends, will be fantastic.

“There’s a derby record to uphold, that’s why I’m picking the teams – is it possible to have a 3-0 win in cricket?’’

Collingwood’s current playing contract sees him through this season. From then, he could carry on playing for his county, while a permanent coaching role with England has been mooted.

When he was named one of Wisden’s cricketers of the year in 2007, the cricket bible described him as "The sort of cricketer who not only made the most of his ability but was also determined to keep getting better."

And he shows no sign of letting up now.

While Durham’s off-field financial problems saw them relegated, deducted points, losing important players as a result, Collingwood remained stoic.

It’s no surprise that he scored a ton and then an unbeaten 92 at Glamorgan last week. There’s life in the old dog yet.

Of Durham’s punishment and difficulties, he admitted: “The season has been frustrating, we always knew if we were going to do anything special then everything had to go our way.

“We went for the win at Glamorgan earlier in the week, we had to try and give ourselves enough time to get them out. It was a little bit of a gamble, but it was no shame in losing a game we tried our best to win.

“Look at the bigger picture in years to come the young players will have gained plenty of experience in a situation like that and they will benefit from it.

“We’ve a lot of injuries in a small squad so opportunities will come for more and more youngsters.

“Durham fans understand it was always going to be a difficult year. We’ve got the likes of Onions, Rushworth, Weighell, Carse, all injured – that’s a lot of wickets. There’s Burnham with a broken thumb, Richardson did his groin, Mark Wood away with England, there’s a lot of players missing and that means opportunities for others at a young stage of their careers.’’

As he broke through into the first class ranks, he did have one of the game’s strongest characters to learn from.

Fast forward 21 years and the youngsters given a chance now can look up to Collingwood like he did to David Boon, a tough as teak Aussie.

“When I was in that situation I had David Boon in the dressing room, a massive influence,’’ he recalled. “When you get these guys who have done so much in international cricket, you are going to listen to them.

“People like Boony didn’t talk a lot but when they did you listened and ears pricked up, you took it in.

“It’s about getting the right cultures in the dressing room, the right mix between relaxed environment, working hard, a strong ethic, getting the balance right.

“But we have to wait for the generation to develop and come through. We lost a lot of players and have to see the next batch get that experience and, hopefully, take their game to the next level.’’