NatWest CricketForce aims to get communities involved in sprucing up their local cricket clubhouses and grounds so the stars, rolled up their sleeves to help with building a score box and painting the changing room at Forton Cricket Club in Shropshire.
A record 2,247 clubs took part in this year’s CricketForce weekend, many of which suffered damage in the recent floods.
Mike Gatting, the former England captain and managing director of cricket partnerships for the England and Wales Cricket Board, said NatWest CricketForce would result in participating clubs benefitting from the investment of several million pounds worth of time and resources – particularly vital to those clubs affected by the terrible winter conditions.
“The bad weather at the start of the year makes this investment even more significant, as clubs are faced with repairing the extensive damage inflicted by the severe flooding, high winds and storms,” he said. “Cricket clubs across the country represent the lifeblood of the sport, and it is hugely important that we all pull together and look after playing facilities.”
More than 1,700 clubs benefitted from financial support towards the cost of equipment to carry out repairs, and volunteers took on a huge range of tasks to improve their clubs’ facilities, from painting club houses to repairing the nets.
Clubs registering for NatWest CricketForce this year were also entered into a new initiative called ‘Famous Fridays’. This offered three clubs the chance to win a year’s free subscription to Sky Sports and a Friday night visit to their club by an ex-England cricket legend to watch a NatWest T20 Blast match. The initiative aims to encourage members to visit their clubhouses thoughout the season to watch all the cricket action, raising much needed funds for their clubs.
In addition to practicing their DIY skills, Hoggard and Wyatt drew the three inaugural winners - Stockport Cricket Club, Basingstoke and North Hants Cricket Club, and Totton and Eling Cricket.
Hoggard praised the work achieved through NatWest CricketForce, which is which is the UK’s largest annual sports volunteering programme: “Throughout my international career I was lucky enough to play at some of the best cricket grounds in the world – all of which are maintained by full-time professional ground-staff. At the grassroots of the game however, it is down to the generosity and hard work of committed volunteers to look after playing facilities.
“NatWest CricketForce is a superb initiative, which provides a framework to ensure that cricket clubs across the country can access resources and support to allow them start their season on the front foot.”
Wyatt added: “Good quality playing facilities are so important for club cricket, and it is fantastic that NatWest CricketForce exists to help clubs and the local community come together and prepare for the start of the summer.”