Durham expect a bumper gate when their ill-fated Twenty20 Cup quarter-final against Glamorgan Dragons finally gets under way tonight.
Durham enter the tie on the back of a 10-wicket Championship win at Surrey and a seven-wicket victory in their opening Pro40 League game at Middlesex on Sunday.
The Dynamos will play Middlesex in Saturday’s second Twenty20 Cup semi-final if they win tonight and will clearly have a psychological edge over the Crusaders.
Durham have the luxury of fielding a host of top internationals at the Riverside, with Paul Collingwood making a rare appearance after he was dropped from the England Test side.
One of the world’s leading batsmen, Shivnarine Chanderpaul, makes his seasonal home debut and his first game in this year’s Twenty20 Cup.
The free-scoring West Indies star replaces South Africa international Albie Morkel, and the legendary Shaun Pollock has balanced playing and media commitments to retain his place in the side.
Durham are likely to have nine full internationals in their side with top-class fielder Garry Park, who has been on 12th man duties with England at Headingley, added to the squad along with Graham Onions.
Steve Harmison, knocking on the door for a Test recall, believes England’s loss has been Durham’s gain, and that the Dynamos are in a rich vein of form.
Harmison said: “We’ve won more games in the Twenty20 this year than in the past three or four years and Shaun Pollock and Albie Morkel have given us something different.”
“The lads are also a year older and a year wiser. We got off to a good start and kept it going, and we’re playing good cricket at the moment.”
“The last 10 days have been a long slog for the Durham side but to come away from the South East with nearly maximum points from both games was a fantastic achievement.”
Harmison has led from the front and his 40 Championship wickets make him the leading wicket taker in the First Division, while the Ashington Express has also been among the wickets in one-day cricket.
“I’m happy with the way it’s going. I’ve got a few wickets in all competitions this year and all I can do is keep taking wickets for Durham.”
“To get back into the Test side I was told I had to bowl overs and take wickets, and I’ve done that. All that myself, Paul Collingwood, Liam Plunkett and Graham Onions can do is perform for Durham and keep knocking on the England door.”
Durham have had another superb summer reaching the semi-finals of the Friends Provident Trophy and are on the verge of a first appearance in the Twenty20 Finals Day.
The magnificent 10-wicket demolition of Surrey at Guildford last week took the Riversiders to the top of the table and the second half of the season promises much.
Meanwhile, Glamorgan are second bottom of the Second Division of the Championship and only sneaked into the quarter-final of the Twenty20 Cup as a best-placed third club.
The Dragons are without South Africa batsman Herschelle Gibbs but veteran former England spinner Robert Croft has recovered from a calf strain.
Former Australian seamer Jason Gillespie will lead the Glamorgan attack as the Welsh outfit bid to capitalise on Yorkshire’s expulsion.
Admission tonight has been cut to £5, while juniors accompanying adults will gain free entry for the 5.30pm start.
The proceeds will be split between three charities, while Chester-le-Street Council will allow free parking in the adjacent car parks.