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North-East welcomes the world as it hosts its first Ashes test match
THE North-East is already gripped by cricket fever as thousands of fans arrive for the stat of the historic Ashes test match.
The region is firmly in the international spotlight as Durham County Cricket Club hosts its first England v Australia Ashes at the Emirates Durham International Cricket Ground at Chester-le-Street.
The club hopes it will help it attract other high-profile games in future.
Hopes are also high that the five-day contest will put the region firmly in the international shop window.
Durham County Council’s Labour leader Simon Henig, who represents the town, said it is buzzing with excitement.
“I think it does provide a real boost , not just for Chester-le-Street and County Durham, but all of the region.
“The region has never hosted an Ashes test before so it is history in the making.”
He described it as the culmination of the many years of hard work of those who guided the club to first class status and created the magnificent stadium.
Coun Henig, who will be attending for two days, added: “It will be a tremendous moment when the England and Australia teams walk out."
He believes it will help sell both the county and the region to the wider public - together with other high profile events such as the visit of the Lindisfarne Gospels.
“It is estimated that half the fans may be from outside the region, coming in, particularly from neighbouring regions like Yorkshire and Scotland.
“It could be worth £20m in the five days and hotels, guest houses, bars and cafes are likely to benefit from that. It is more than just the benefit over the next few days.
“It is about people seeing what a fantastic cricket ground it is, what a fantastic place it is and may be coming back later
“It is a slow burn thing, it is about establishing ourselves on the national and international stage
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