Workington turn the tide
As the deep water lay stagnant over the outfield and television cameras surveyed the devastation caused by the severe floods, Malcolm Wood declared defiantly: "There will be cricket at Workington CC in the coming season."
It was a statement of hope as much as expectation. Two days previously, on the night of November 19, the water had risen to six feet deep and devastated the town of Workington in Cumbria.
Bridges had buckled, cars were carried away and houses left in ruin. The cricket ground was no exception.
“We lost everything,” Wood, the club's development officer, told ecb.co.uk.
“It is difficult to comprehend how bad it was. You’ve got to start all over again and it's soul-destroying.”
But three months on from the floods that drew national concern, and 10 weeks to go before the new season, work is gathering pace as the club members aim to make good on the November promise.
Silt and stones have been cleared from the outfield, ravaged fittings and equipment have been ripped out of the pavilion and this week the blowers went to work.
Thanks to the commitment of club members, chairman Brian Stalker is condifent they will host cricket this summer.
“As soon as the security cordon surrounding the club was lifted, the members and supporters were on the ground and in the club beginning the strip out,” he told ecb.co.uk.
“We lost everything and all that was left was the clubhouse shell.
“But we will be playing cricket again in April and will be striving to be the very best at every level we are playing cricket.
“We will emerge from this disaster bigger, better and stronger than ever.”
The members of Workington CC are certainly accustomed to a touch of adversity and the odd renovation job.
In April 2005 soon-to-be Ashes heroes James Anderson and Matthew Hoggard helped them upgrade the ground as part of the NatWest CricketForce weekend.
The project allowed the ground to host its first minor counties game in 17 years that summer and the club expanded from three to six junior teams.
But six months later torrential rain and drainage problems led to localised flooding that covered the pitch, infiltrated the pavilion and ultimately did around £10,000 of damage.
Repairs were made and year-on-year they worked to improve the ground, making this latest setback particularly desperate.
But now they are using their CricketForce experiences to aid the recovery.
With training starting in March and their first game in mid-April, there is still a huge amount of work to be done.
The flood waters reached four and a half foot in the pavilion, destroying kitchen units, the bar, old photos and cricket kit.
“At the moment we have absolutely nothing,” said Wood. “We were pouring thousands of pounds of stock down the drain as well as throwing helmets, pads and shirts for six junior teams into the skip.
“We’ve no way of generating income at the moment and we need to do that.”
They hope to bring in Portakabins to serve as temporary changing rooms and facilities for the coming season and are looking for volunteers and businesses to help continue the preparations for the new season.
Given the club’s record at recovery, maybe Wood’s promise was never in doubt.