LANCASHIRE skipper Dane Vilas is relishing the prospect of his side's all important clash against Durham at Sedbergh School, which starts on Sunday.

Vilas will lead Lancashire into the eagerly awaited County Championship game, which is believed to be the first ever first class match to take place in Cumbria, and he said he was expecting a great game in what is the South African player's first visit to the area.

"I've never been up to the Lake District and I've never been up to this area although I always intended to visit," Vilas told The Westmorland Gazette.

"As soon as I arrived I realised what a beautiful ground it is and when we were driving over the scenery was fantastic.

"I'm really looking forward to playing here and it should be a great week of cricket."

But Vilas knows his are not there just to enjoy the scenery and the Red Rose men have a serious job to do in what could be a pivotal game in their season.

Lancashire, who were relegated last season, currently top the Division Two table and victory in the four day game against basement side Durham will go a long way to clinching a swift return to the top tier.

"There's no doubt it will be a tough game," said Vilas.

"Durham have just pulled off a very good win at Sussex who are a good side and challenging for promotion, so they will be confident going into the game.

"We all know everyone at Lancashire is desperate to get promotion this season because it was so disappointing to go down last year and we all want to be playing top tier cricket.

"This game is the first of a block of three County Championship games with no T20 in between.

"It's one of the most important parts of the season because they are all tough games against good sides.

"We know how big a game this is against Durham but we're all looking forward to it and I hope the crowd enjoy some good cricket."

Sedbergh School head Dan Harrison said everything had gone smoothly as the school and town ready themselves to host Lancashire, who are expected to include England’s leading all time wicket taker Jimmy Anderson in their line up.

“Preparations have gone really well and we all all very excited about the game,” said Mr Harrison.

He said groundsman Martin Smith had been hard at work on the wicket and everyone was eagerly anticipating the match.

“Martin is a former Bradford League player who is hugely experienced and has looked after our ground for nearly two decades, and I’m very confident he has produced an excellent wicket which should make for a great game,” he said.

Mr Harrison explained that the school was open as normal during the week of the game but many pupils were away on ‘Challenge Week’ so would not be able to attend.

However he said all the indications were that a big crowd was expected on the opening day and also on Monday, with the state of the game governing the size of the crowd on the final two days on Tuesday and Wednesday.

And Mr Harrison said he was delighted the school was hosting an event which he said should bring an economic boost to the area with the town’s hotels, shops and cafes expected to be busy for the entire period of the game.

The club also believe the game will help establish a support base for Lancashire in the area, though Cumbrian cricket followers are also being courted by opponents Durham who are understood to be keen to extend their own fanbase to their neighbouring county.

Lancashire are laying on a shuttle bus for ticket holders from Oxenholme station for the duration of the game, and car parking facilities will be available on Busk Lane and Back Lane close to the ground on each day of the game for a £5 charge.

Gates will open at 10am on each of the four days and access to the ground, which is by ticket only, is via the entry point on Loftus Hill.