Club Cricket Conference

Wednesday, 24th April 2024

Cook goes west for NatWest Cricketforce duty

By Charles Randall

30 March 2016

Alastair Cook, the England captain, has been lined up to help out in the NatWest CricketForce volunteering project this weekend at Dymock CC, celebrating their 150th year in Gloucestershire as one of three clubs chosen by the ECB.

The other two clubs will be Happisburgh CC and Bedford CC.

Cook, accompanied by a former England captain, Mike Gatting, is due to join members and helpers at Dymock in the morning while they prepare the ground and pavilion for the 2016 season, though Bedford would have been a more obvious choice for Cook, as a local hero who went to school in the town.

Dymock's day is on Friday, and Happisburgh  have been promised help in Norfolk renovating their pavilion on Saturday, followed by Bedford on Sunday. Jewson, the builders' merchants,  are supporting all three clubs as ‘The Primary Official Supporter’ of NatWest CricketForce.

More than 2,000 clubs and thousands of cricket volunteers have already signed up for this year’s project, now in its 15th year. NatWest Cricketforce has grown into one of the biggest sports volunteering initiatives in the country and has won a sport industry award for the pioneering work helping clubs engage with local communities.

Dymock are building a new pavilion part-funded by ECB, and the Cricketforce activity will  include erecting a new electronic scoreboard, tree-planting and and fence painting. Nick Compton and Gatting are due to visit Happisburgh to help in the pavilion and, on Sunday, the England Women player Lauren Winfield, along with Mike Gatting, go to Bedford.

It was only 10 years ago that Bedford, having often been the county's pre-eminent club, nearly went out of existence after an exodus of players and  theft of funds, but after temporarily abandoning adult cricket to concentrate on youth age groups the club bounced back with successive promotions in the Bedfordshire League, albeit still a long way below elite standard.

Cook said: "It’s always great to give something back to the club game which played such an important part in my own development as a cricketer. I’m looking forward to being a part of NatWest CricketForce once again and I would urge as many cricket-lovers as possible to join in the fun and show support for their local club."

The ECB's head of sponsorship Martyn Wilson commented: "It’s great to be a part of such a thriving programme and see both club registrations and the number of NatWest volunteers increasing once again."