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England stars boost NatWest CricketForce

England stars will be donning their overalls and swapping their bats for paintbrushes as they join volunteers at clubs throughout the country who will be taking part in NatWest CricketForce 2005 - the UK's largest ever cricket club volunteering event.

Current internationals Andrew Strauss, Geraint Jones, Matthew Hoggard, James Anderson, Vikram Solanki and Ashley Giles will all be taking part in a bid to promote the event at the beginning of April.

In an unashamed celebration of hit TV programmes Ground Force and Changing Rooms, 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.

Geraint Jones

Wicket-keeper Geraint Jones will be lending his services

Developed to be part of the ECB's NatWest Volunteer programme, CricketForce is currently in its fourth year.

Participation has grown by over 6,000 per cent from humble origins in 2002 when just one club took part. In 2005 over 650 are registered to participate, which represents 1 in 10 of all cricket clubs across the UK.

NatWest CricketForce 2005 will be launched at Bexley Cricket Club, Bexley, Kent on Friday April 1 at 12 noon by England cricketers Strauss and Jones.

On Saturday April 2 Giles will be visiting Harborne Cricket Club in Warwickshire - while Solanki will be joining volunteers at Ross on Wye CC (Herefordshire) and Shifnal CC (Shropshire); dropping in and out of the clubs in the special NatWest CricketForce helicopter!

The NatWest CricketForce helicopter will take to the sky again the following day as Hoggard and Anderson will be joining hundreds of volunteers at Workington CC (Cumbria), Saltaire CC (Yorkshire) and Wirksworth CC (Derbyshire).

Keith Pont, Director of Development at the ECB, said: "NatWest CricketForce has enjoyed a huge surge in popularity over the last four years, which shows the passionate support cricket enjoys from the grass roots up through to the national team.

“The ECB is proud that cricket not only leads the way amongst UK sports in supporting the Year of the Volunteer, but also acknowledges the crucial role that cricket loving volunteers play in maintaining their clubs throughout the year."

Lee Bailey, NatWest Sponsorship Manager, added: "2005 is a particularly proud year for NatWest as we celebrate supporting English cricket for 25 years.

Matthew Hoggard

Matthew Hoggard will be visiting three cricket clubs in one day with James Anderson

“NatWest is committed to investing in the community so developing grassroots cricket in this way is important to our involvement in the game. For NatWest CricketForce to become the biggest volunteer event seen in the UK is a great achievement for all involved.

“We have encouraged NatWest staff across our branch network to go out and get involved with activity at their local cricket club and by giving up their personal time they could also receive up to £500 for their local club as part of NatWest's Community Cashback Award Scheme."