TENS of thousands of cricket fans descended on Chester-le-Street today for the fourth Ashes Test match.
Alistair Cook’s England have already made sure they will retain the urn, with the home team 2-0 up with only two games left to play.
So a party atmosphere is predicted for the match at the 15,000 capacity Emirates Durham International Cricket Ground. LAUNCH OUR LIVE ASHES BLOG
Hundreds of people have been busy behind the scenes to get the stadium prepared and bars stocked for thirsty punters, and the good news from weather forecasters is that the sun is likely to be out for most of the day, with highs of 20°C predicted.
Paul Days, 52 from Chester-le-Street, has booked tickets along with son Harry, 11.
“I’ve got tickets for four out of the five days, and I’m really looking forward to it,” he said. “It’s good for the North East.
“Harry’s a ball boy on Saturday, and he’s going to be giving a cricket demonstration as well.
“The ground looks excellent, and hopefully we’ll have good weather.
“It will be a good day for Durham Cricket Club as well.” Businesses in the area are hoping to do a roaring trade, with economists estimating that the North East will benefit by £20million from being part of the prestigious series.
Emma Preston, of the Red Lion pub in Chester-le-Street, said: “It’s been a bit busy over the last few days, but we expect it to be crazy from now on. We’ve had a couple of Australians in who said they were staying nearby, so we hope plenty more of them will come in.
“It’s a great thing for the town to be hosting.”
Clem’s fish shop has stocked its supplies ready for the invasion of sports fans over the next five days.
Owner Peter Oxenham, who will have a van selling the grub at the ground, said: “I’ve got so much fish, it’s coming out of my ears.
“We’ve just taken delivery of about 50 boxes of potatoes for the chips.
“It’s going to be buzzing, and it’s incredible for the area.”
The hosting of an Ashes Test is a huge coup for Durham County Cricket Club,
Councillor Simon Henig, leader of Durham County Council and a ward member for Chester-le-Street, 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’ 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.”