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Gatting urges clubs to join up

Mike Gatting recalls last year's NatWest CricketForce and hopes 2009 will be even better

Mike Gatting will be pulling on his overalls for NatWest CricketForce and hopes you will be able to join him.

The former England skipper was a busy man last year, helping out at a number of clubs including Hertford, Farsley, Lisvane and Kirby Muxloe.

Gatting will be on the road again over NatWest CricketForce weekend, which runs between April 3-5, and he is urging more clubs to get involved in the initiative.

"We need more clubs to sign up," said Gatting, ECB's managing director cricket partnerships.

"It's amazing for clubs - come and help yourself. We will try and help too because there will be lots of us around trying to help make your club better."

NatWest CricketForce 2008 - Lisvane

Lisvane underwent a dramatic transformation during last year's NatWest CricketForce

NatWest CricketForce encourages cricket supporters, their friends and families to give something back to their local community cricket club by volunteering to undertake major renovations to clubhouses and grounds.

Last year attracted a record 1,375 clubs (225 up on 2007), 85,000 volunteers (5,000 up on 2007) and an estimated £35-£40 million in cash and kind (an increase of up to £5million on the previous year).

Those figures are expected to rise again this year.

"It's about making your environment better," added Gatting. "It's a great chance for a club to leave a legacy."

One club close to Gatting's heart is Lisvane, where he visited last year.

"It was an old ground that needed regenerating," he recalled. "I'm going back there to see how it has come along. It all had to be done.

"It was amazing to see the transformation in just one day - fences were painted, outfield cut, trees cut back, paths laid and inside of the pavilion was done."