Cricket club needs your help to get them ready for new season

NEWPORT, ENGLAND - APRIL 04: Ex England cricket players Matthew Hoggard (L) and Mike Gatting undertake renovation work of the grounds during the NatWest CricketForce at Forton Cricket Club on April 4, 2014 in Newton, England. (Photo by Paul Thomas/Getty Images for ECB)
NEWPORT, ENGLAND - APRIL 04: Ex England cricket players Matthew Hoggard (L) and Mike Gatting undertake renovation work of the grounds during the NatWest CricketForce at Forton Cricket Club on April 4, 2014 in Newton, England. (Photo by Paul Thomas/Getty Images for ECB)

Leighton Buzzard Cricket Club chairman Allan Whatmore is urging the local community to come down and help them get ready for the new season.

The 14th annual NatWest CricketForce will take place between March 27-29, with this year promising to be another blockbuster event with more than 2,000 clubs registered to take part.

Tens of thousands of club members and volunteers will come together to clean, tidy, repair and revitalise clubhouses and cricket grounds across the country ahead of the new season.

One of those to sign up is Leighton Buzzard and Whatmore admits the NatWest CricketForce is an important event if the club are to hit the ground running this season.

“We’ve been taking part since the Natwest CricketForce was introduced, so that is probably eight or nine years now,” said Whatmore, who is holding the Natwest CricketForce over the weekend over March 28 and 29.

“So we’ve got ourselves into a bit of a routine now of fixing up the clubhouse, getting the changing rooms ready for occupation, cleaning the showers, and making sure all parts of the ground are fit for use.

“Then there’s preparing the outdoor nets for when the weather gets good enough to train there, working on the square to get that ready, and so on.

“So it is a whole host of jobs that need doing, rather than anything specific.

“Every year we get at least 20-30 people who come down and get involved, and sometimes even more than that.

“Hopefully an armada of people will come down this year and really help us to make a difference, as the day is very important to the club.”

The scheme is supported by former England captain and current ECB Managing Director of Cricket Partnerships Mike Gatting.

And Gatting, who played 79 Tests and 92 ODIs for England, is adamant this year’s Natwest CricketForce will benefit more than just the clubs themselves.

“I hope we’re helping the communities as well as the clubs,” he added. “Kids want to go to clubs, and have fun with their mates in a safe area.

“It’s all about the community for cricket clubs, and in some places the clubs can stop kids from being out on the street and doing drugs, in gangs, and other terrible things.

“So these kind of schemes make a difference from that respect too, and it’s nice to think we can help kids move down a different path to all that.

“Cricket is one of those games where you make friends for life, build bridges, and learn a lot of life skills as well.

“That’s really important so local councils and communities acknowledging that it does make a difference and getting involved themselves is what it’s all about.”

NatWest CricketForce is an ECB project helping cricket clubs renovate and improve their facilities before each season with the help of members and their wider communities. Find out when your local club event is and lend a hand at ecb.co.uk/nwcf