DURHAM chief executive Tim Bostock claims the three World Cup matches staged at Emirates Riverside have played a “crucial role” in helping push forward the club’s regrowth in the next few years.

As well as banking around £2m from the successful staging of three World Cup group games, culminating in England’s victory over New Zealand on Wednesday that booked their place in the semi-finals, Durham have also been able to re-establish their Chester-le-Street venue’s credentials as a leading international venue.

The feedback from both the ECB and ICC has been extremely positive, with a global audience of millions getting the opportunity to see scenic shots of County Durham bathed in glorious sunshine.

“It couldn’t have gone any better,” said Bostock. “The ICC do a survey where everything is ranked, and all of our numbers have come back excellent. The chief executive and chairman of the ECB have been here, and their feedback to us was absolutely sensational.

“Just as importantly, I think the supporters that attended the games had a great experience, and people all around the world have been able to see what we’ve got to offer here at Durham. I’ve worked abroad, and I’ve had loads of people from Australia and New Zealand coming on to me and saying they couldn’t believe how good the ground looked. Marcus North has said exactly the same.

“We had the colour and atmosphere generated by all the different countries, a crucial England game, and then we also had Rihanna turning up. When she was here on Monday, there were 12 million Tweets about it. I had a laugh about that with the Council. All the money they spend on Visit County Durham – and one appearance from Rihanna trumps their entire publicity budget in an afternoon!”

Given Durham’s much-publicised money troubles in recent years, the financial benefits of being a World Cup venue are extremely welcome.

Just as importantly, though, the county has been able to show both Durham County Council and the ECB the importance of staging international cricket in the North-East. As a result, both appear to be willing to support Durham’s ambitious redevelopment plans.

“Every county receives £1m whether they’re hosting World Cup games or not,” said Bostock. “Then as a host venue, we get a staging fee of £150,000-a-game. The ticketing is also important because there’s a bonus built in if your attendances are good. Ours have been absolutely excellent – even on Monday for a game that was really a dead rubber, but that turned out to be fantastic entertainment. The fact that the North-East fans have supported us has really helped.

“More importantly, though, we’ve reminded everyone just how important it is to have top-class international cricket staged here. We’re at the stage where we’re having some really interesting conversations with the ECB and the Council regarding our plans for a hotel and conference centre at the ground.

“I’ve always said those plans are going to be absolutely crucial to our future funding plans and where we want to go as a club, and everything is looking very positive. The ECB absolutely recognise the strategic importance of Emirates Riverside in growing the game, and the Council really want to back us and keep international cricket in County Durham. I’m hopeful there’ll be some really positive news on all of that in the next two or three months.”

The ECB’s support does not currently extend to awarding Emirates Riverside any Test matches, with the ban that was imposed at the time of the club’s demotion to the Second Division of the County Championship having prevented them from bidding in the last round of Test scheduling.

That could change in the future, although for the next few years, Bostock is happy with the current arrangement that sees Durham guaranteed at least one attractive One-Day International involving England each summer.

“I’d never say never when it came to Tests,” he said. “Obviously the ship has sailed in the short term because the Test programme is now fixed through to 2024.

“However, the fact we’re not involved in that means we’ve been able to get ourselves into a position where we’re getting a plum One-Day International game at the height of the summer. We’ve got Australia here next summer, and at the moment, that’s a model that works well for us.

“We’ll see what happens after 2024 in terms of Test matches, but the main thing at the moment is that we’ve got a cast-iron guarantee that we’ll continue to stage England matches here.”