Shahzad and Vaughan do their bit
England and Yorkshire bowler Ajmal Shahzad plus former England captain Michael Vaughan pitched in as Sawley and Long Eaton Park Cricket Club became the latest beneficiary of NatWest CricketForce 2011.
Shahzad was joined by Mike Gatting, the ECB’s managing director of cricket partnerships, England women internationals Katherine Brunt and Jenny Gunn, and dozens of local volunteers on a scorching hot Sunday in Derbyshire to fix up the club’s two pavilions.
And, despite being coated in paint by former Yorkshire team-mate Vaughan, Shahzad had a brilliant time.
“It’s great just helping out with the local community, getting the changing rooms done,” he told ecb.co.uk. “It’s good to be here on such a beautiful day and good to see all the local people helping out and making this cricket club a part of the community. Me and Vaughny were helping out and he’s sprayed me all over.”
The CricketForce project is the latest part of a decade-long £200,000 redevelopment project at the Derbyshire County League club, which has already seen improvements to the main pavilion, the practice nets and an extension to the third/fourth XI pavilion.
The latest steps include an enlargement and redecoration of the social area, a brick balustrade to replace a rotten wooden one, the refurbishment of an unused changing room to accommodate the club’s growing female membership and improvements to the kitchen.
The club have also received two new sight screens, a super mopper and a three-pitch rain cover - and Shahzad was quick to recognise the benefits the new equipment will have.
“I remember when I played junior cricket, we had just one strip for the wicket and we had to dry it out as best we could. You can only play as well as the facilities out there.
“Hopefully with the super mopper and the covers, the standard here will rise and they’ll be able to play a lot more games, especially when the weather is not so good. It’s good to see and this had certainly put a smile back on my face and a smile on everybody’s face.”
The club’s volunteers manager Dave Dooley was in no doubt about the positive impact of the project and believes it could help club cricket right across the county.
“This is the culmination of eight years of work and £200,000 worth of investment in our facilities. Eight years ago we renovated the main pavilion with grants from the local council and Biffa, who have a landfill site nearby, and were prepared to put money into community projects like ours.
“Having got that underway, we moved on to sorting out our practice nets because we only had one non-turf batting end. There was about £7,500 worth of investment there with the help of organisations like East Midlands Airport and the Derbyshire Community Fund.
“We then moved on to our extension of the pavilion which the thirds and fourths play out of. That was a £60,000 investment from the ECB’s community club development fund and we now have three tremendous changing rooms down there.
“Today, we’ve reached the final part of this process with the pavilion which belonged to Long Eaton Park CC, which we merged with 10 years ago, and now we’ve finally got to what I would call our destination project. This is Long Eaton’s showcase park and now we’ve got some showcase facilities for a showcase club.
“I think after this we can step back and say ‘we can hand it over and the next generation can enjoy 10 years of cricket and not worry about the facilities. We’re doing things which have a direct impact on the matchday experience of all our members, seniors and juniors. I think what the volunteers are doing here today will ripple through the county and what we’ve done today will have an impact throughout Derbyshire club cricket.”
The CricketForce project now boast over 85,000 volunteers and has been involved with 1,900 clubs across the country.