Duo to drop in on Workington
Workington Cricket Club are on the way up with ambitious plans for the future and this Sunday England players James Anderson and Matthew Hoggard will pay a flying visit as part of the NatWest CricketForce initiative.
The pair will be dropped into the Ernest Valentine Ground by helicopter and are all set to help with ground renovations and group coaching sessions aimed at children from the surrounding area.
The club has a 10-year vision that includes staging a Cumberland match against one of the 17 full county sides at a fully refurbished ground.
Club Development Officer Malcolm J Wood told ecb.co.uk: “When Matthew and James come down we aim to give them the dirtiest job possible, perhaps we will give them the sightscreens to paint!
“Seriously, I am ecstatic for everyone involved that two England cricketers are coming down to the ground, it has capped off a lot of hard work from both the members and the local community.
“We have been pushing to be a premier club in the region for some time and have achieved that, and now we are recognised as an ECB Focus club and this event can only raise the profile of the club as we look to host Cumberland county games here, which is seen as a long-term aim.”
The club is asking its members and volunteers to help with replacing the scoreboard and groundsman store, decorating the pavilion and changing rooms, and improving the cosmetics of the pavilion and ground.
Wood continued: “As part of the NatWest CricketForce initiative we have done extensive work on the clubhouse and have completed the refurbishments on one changing room, with the other near completion, and hopefully we can get most of that done on Sunday.”
Workington are looking to follow the success of Lingfield CC, who after weekend renovations during the first NatWest CricketForce in 2002 enjoyed an 83% increase in bar takings and significantly increased their sponsorship revenue.
Local businesses have rallied to support Workington’s cause and have given generously of their time and financial assistance.
Wood explained: “The local firms have been terrific and have donated both thousands of pounds of equipment and time. Special mention must be made to Raymond O’Neill, whose son plays for the club and has given a huge amount of his time, and Paul McGurk who has been crucial in restoring the electrical wiring.
“Club members have been extremely generous with giving their time and there has been a hard core of around 12 who have shown great commitment, but in total around 50 have got involved.
“We started work in January after calling a committee meeting when we got the CricketForce information from the ECB and we produced a wishlist prioritising what needs doing. Unfortunately the scorebox and garage need planning permission but they have been stripped and repainted.”
There will be the added attraction of the ECB Roadshow on Sunday and everyone at the club is anticipating a bumper weekend of cricketing action and renovation.
Wood concluded: “We have got a number of local dignitaries coming down, including local MP Tony Cunningham and Council leader Jim Musgrave, alongside other prominent councillors.
“We will have Intercricket games going on, with Anderson and Hoggard passing on their tips to hundreds of kids, in specialised catching, bowling and batting sessions.
“We have a number of clubs in the area and I am sure children will be enticed down by the thought of meeting an England cricketer or two, with the game definitely on the up in the area.”