A North East community is buzzing with excitement as it prepares to welcome thousands of cricket fans for the Fourth Test of the Ashes.
England’s winning team will take on Australia from tomorrow at the Emirates Durham International Cricket Ground in Chester-le-Street. Business leaders are expecting the region’s economy to get a £20m boost as 15,000 people arrive to watch the action.
Doreen Woodland, manager of Clems fish and chip shop on Front Street, said the town is elated to be hosting a global event.
Clems is taking its “fish wagon” to the Riverside to serve fans as they enjoy the cricket. Doreen said: “I think the Ashes will bring a lot of trade in to Chester-le-Street. Everyone in the town is in quite a good mood. People are quite cheerful. It is going to be very busy and everyone is looking forward to it.”
Sue Potts, of greengrocer W Bates on the same street, said: “We hope some of those thousands of cricket fans come into the high street. “It will be very good for the town.”
Norman Pringle, manager of Pipers Butchers, said: “I think the pubs and the restaurants will do very well out of it. We haven’t heard people talking about it, but it is very good for the area to have something like this happening here.”
Michael Fitzgerald, manager of The Red Lion pub, said: “I think even people who don’t follow cricket will be watching, just to see us beat the Australians.
“It will really put the county and the town on the map.
“I think when it finishes on the afternoons, it will be busy and we will get people coming in for a couple of pints.
“Hopefully, we will get a lot of Australians in as well – it is good to have a bit of banter with the opposite team.”
Coun Simon Henig, leader of Durham County Council and representative for the Chester-le-Street ward, said: “It is tremendous for Chester-le-Street, County Durham and the North East to be part of the Ashes for the first time.
“This is the culmination of more than 20 years of hard work by many people from the 1990s onwards, particularly Don Robson and those who had the original vision.
“We are anticipating approximately 70,000 spectators, of whom half are likely to be from outside the region, which will give a welcome boost to local shops and businesses.
“More generally the Test match, alongside other events such as the Lindisfarne Gospels exhibition, will put Chester-le-Street and County Durham firmly on the national and international map.”
Durham County Cricket Club chairman Clive Leach said: “There has been a great deal of work behind the scenes to ensure that Durham continues to develop in order to maintain its position as a leading International cricket venue.
“This will be a huge milestone for the club and the region, which is testament to the hard work of all involved.