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England skippers roll up their sleeves

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England captains Alastair Cook and Charlotte Edwards will be swapping cricket bats for shovels and paintbrushes at Harrow Town Cricket Club on Friday to launch another record-breaking year for NatWest CricketForce.

The England duo will be joined by the Mayor of London Boris Johnson, ECB Chief Executive David Collier and ECB Managing Director of Cricket Partnerships Mike Gatting at this year's showcase club alongside thousands of volunteers nationwide who will be lending a hand at their local club over the NatWest CricketForce weekend.

A record number of nearly 2,000 clubs have registered to take part in the annual three-day initiative that will see facilities across the country rejuvenated and prepared for the forthcoming season.

England captain Alastair Cook said: "NatWest CricketForce is an excellent grassroots cricket initiative. Quality facilities are so important; they can make the difference between people staying in cricket or dropping out. I remember my early days as a junior at Maldon Cricket Club and will never forget the generosity of the volunteers who gave up their time to run the club; they are the lifeblood of the grassroots game.”

Charlotte Edwards, Laura Marsh, Mike Gatting & Steven Finn

England women's captain Charlotte Edwards, pictured top left, is taking part in NatWest CricketForce once again having done so last year

England Women's captain Charlotte Edwards said: "It's so important for us as England players to support grassroots cricket and to give something back to the game. I've been to many NatWest CricketForce events and seen for myself the huge impact they have in helping clubs prepare facilities for the forthcoming season."

ECB Chief Executive David Collier said: "NatWest CricketForce is a fantastic opportunity for all cricket clubs throughout England and Wales to partner with their local community and benefit from the generosity of volunteers and sponsors to enhance cricket's facilities throughout our club network.

"By signing up to take part in NatWest CricketForce, clubs save thousands of pounds as volunteers and tradesmen give their time for free alongside exclusive access to £400 worth of free materials in an ECB subsidised initiative with Jewson.

"In 2012 ECB was recognised in The Queen's Diamond Jubilee Volunteering Awards for our volunteer programmes and we are extremely grateful to The Mayor of London and to NatWest for their support of the 2013 NatWest CricketForce."

Mayor of London Boris Johnson said: "Grassroots sports are at the heart of communities across London, so it's fantastic to see thousands of local volunteers digging in and supporting their local clubs. This is exactly the sort of campaign which will help us build on the enormous enthusiasm for volunteering and sports which swept the nation during London 2012. Our long-awaited summer will ring with the sound of leather on willow at beautifully tendered grounds thanks to the hard work of NatWest CricketForce volunteers."

Chris Long, Senior Sponsorship Manager, NatWest said: "Each year NatWest CricketForce grows in size with more clubs taking part, more of our staff donating their time at their local club and more projects being completed. Cricket clubs really do rely on volunteers and NatWest CricketForce is a great example of how much can be achieved when communities come together; that's why it's something that we're very proud to be so actively involved in."