Chester-le-Street could be up to £4m better off after last weekend's cricket internationals.

As the clean-up operation began to tidy up the town after 28,000 visitors in two days, hoteliers, pub landlords and shopkeepers were happily counting the weekend's takings.

Saturday's one-day match between England and the West Indies was a 15,000 Riverside sell-out, with pub landlords reporting a large number of the crowd drinking in the town later that evening.

Add to that the 8,000 or so who came for the Zimbabwe versus West Indies match the following day, and estimates put the town's coffers groaning to the tune of between three or four million pounds.

Durham County Cricket Club chairman Bill Midgley declared the weekend a resounding success, adding they are now thirsty for more.

He said: "This weekend now gives us the chance to put our hat in the ring for a Test Match.

"There is nothing available until 2003 but that doesn't mean we can sit on our laurels - we have to start working for that now.

"This has shown the world that the North-East can stage a big sporting event. It proves the region is alive and bubbly and can stand alongside the rest."

The knock-on effects of the international fixtures, which were beamed round the world by Sky TV cameras, have been impressive.

Mr Midgley added: "I've heard there wasn't a hotel room to be had in the town and the pubs did an absolutely roaring trade.

"Obviously the cricket club have done very well out of it but we've also put plenty into the town.

"A figure of three to four million pounds would not be unrealistic in terms of how much Chester-le-Street has made out of this. It's quite staggering when you think about it."