OKAY, so there was no Rihanna. Instead, there was Robson Green, and while the Hexham-born star of Soldier Solider might pass for showbiz royalty in these parts, he’s not exactly on a par with Monday’s celebrity spot at Riverside when it comes to worldwide appeal.

Nevertheless, if the game between the West Indies and Sri Lanka at the start of the week was the aperitif in terms of the North-East’s week in the cricketing spotlight, this was the main course. England against New Zealand for a place in the World Cup semi-finals. No wonder there was barely a spare seat in sight.

“We’ve had our tickets for weeks,” said Susan Roberts, who had made the short journey from Bishop Auckland for yesterday’s game along with her husband and son. “But we’ve got a couple of friends who decided they might fancy it too so we had a look on the internet last night to see if we could find any tickets for sale. We found two at £500 each. So, they’re watching on TV.”

England’s one and only World Cup visit to Chester-le-Street was always going to be the highlight of County Durham’s contribution to the tournament, but the fact Eoin Morgan’s side needed to win to be sure of a place in the last four only added to the sense of anticipation that hung around the ground as the start of play approached.

The feeder roads off the A1 were thronged with traffic, the park-and-ride from Rainton Meadows was well used, and unlike at some previous World Cup matches, the stands were just about full by the time the players came on to the field.

‘God Save The Queen’ was sung lustily, a pocket of 20-or-so replica-shirted New Zealand supporters ensured ‘God Defend New Zealand’ – far more jaunty a ditty than its name suggests – received equal respect, and then with England having won the toss, play began. And how.

England’s one-day side have risen to the top of the world rankings thanks to their explosive, big-hitting style, and after in-form opener Jason Roy survived a scare from the very first ball, which whistled just past his leg-stump, he combined with Yorkshireman Jonny Bairstow to put on more than 100 for the first wicket.

Bairstow went on to get his second World Cup century in the space of four days, and while a fall of wickets in the second half of their innings checked their momentum, England were still able to post an imposing total of 305-8.

“More than enough,” suggested Durham supporter Arthur Watson at the break. “I’ve seen plenty of matches here, and it’s going to take a bloody good team to knock them off.”

He was right, although after the New Zealand reply got off to a dreadful start with opener Henry Nicholls departing in the very first over, there was a moment of real drama as Durham’s Mark Wood ran out Kane Williamson with the slightest of deflections into the stumps.

“Out, out, out,” screamed the crowd, as the slow-motion replay appeared on the big screen. OUT appeared the capital letters to seal Williamson’s fate.

An hour or so later, and the game was up, with Adil Rashid removing Trent Boult to wrap up a 119-run win. Even a portly streaker, who led the stewards on a merry dance for what seemed like an eternity before cartwheeling across the outfield, could not detract from the quality of England’s win.

“I told you it would be enough,” said Arthur. “And they’ll win the final too.”