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Hants stars in paintbrush raid

Just hours before they flew out to South Africa for their pre-season tour, Hampshire’s star players threw their weight behind the ECB’s NatWest CricketForce initiative to give Burridge Cricket Club near Fareham a facelift to remember.

having spent winter refurbishing family homes, John Crawley and Nic Pothas proved dab hands with tile cutters and grouting, but other players, plus a coach-load of staff from the Rose Bowl, were happy to clean out ditches and whitewash sightscreens in the NatWest CricketForce cause.

In all, around 500 man - and woman - hours were contributed in one day at the village club where the pavilion, changing rooms, toilets, kitchen, net area, fences, patio and playing area received the clean-up, spit and polish, repair and mend treatment.

The volunteers' efforts were designed to flag up the weekend of March 31 and April 1 where a record 1,128 clubs around the country and more than 80,000 volunteers will be taking part in NatWest CricketForce 2007, which is poised to see more than £25million invested by local businesses up in improving cricket clubs and facilities.

Nic Pothas

Nic Pothas was among those lending a hand at Burridge CC

At Burridge, brand new nets have been funded by a £24,000 grant from SITA's Landfill Communities Fund, and the local branch of B&Q chipped in with £750 worth of materials and tools. The manager and two of her staff used their days off to join in with the activities.

The 60-strong star-studded workforce will be replaced this weekend by Burridge CC’s own members, who are being urged to support their club by rounding up friends and family to turn up with paintbrushes, cleaning cloths, buckets and building materials.

“Our aim is to get as many club members together for as long as possible over these three days to make a difference to what is everybody's club and to make it a place to be proud of being a member, and to give us the opportunity to hopefully attract new members, finance, sponsorship and grants,” said club president David Winter.

According to Hampshire cricket development manager Clive Surry, the support of the county cricket club made no end of difference to the initiative across the county with three times the number of clubs participating this year.

“Focusing effort on a single club on a single day also generated good publicity for CricketForce regionally, which should make it easier for other clubs to motivate volunteers for the main event which takes place this weekend,” he said.