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NatWest CricketForce set for take-off

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Andrew Strauss

Andrew Strauss is backing NatWest CricketForce from England's tour of West Indies

A host of England and county stars will join forces with over 1,500 clubs and an estimated 85,000 volunteers after signing-up to take part in NatWest CricketForce on April 3–5 2009.

Players will swap bats for brushes and take on tasks such as restoring the score box, painting fences and repairing nets in time for the 2009 season.

NatWest CricketForce is an England and Wales Cricket Board volunteering initiative aimed at rejuvenating the nation’s cricketing facilities. With enough volunteers involved to fill the Millennium Stadium it is the largest volunteer programme in British sport.

Among the many events taking place up and down the country this weekend, Ashtead CC in Surrey will launch proceedings on Friday April 3 at 11.30am with England bowlers Monty Panesar, Graeme Swann and women’s World Cup-winning captain Charlotte Edwards.

Meanwhile, minister for sport, Gerry Sutcliffe MP will join former England internationals Graeme Fowler and Mike Gatting along with other players from the Durham County Cricket Academy at Sacriston CC, Durham on Sunday 5th at 11.00am.

England captain Andrew Strauss, who has been involved with NatWest CricketForce for many years, said: “I'm backing NatWest Cricket Force in 2009 and so are the rest of the England team.

“It's a terrific concept and a great way for all the community to get behind their local cricket club and play a part in helping improve facilities.”

England women’s captain Charlotte Edwards, looking forward to this year’s event, commented: "NatWest CricketForce is a fantastic initiative for cricket clubs across England and Wales. It really brings clubs together at the start of the season and it's great to see so many players, officials and VIPs turn out to volunteer across the weekend.

“This is a massive year for cricket with the ICC World Twenty20 and The Ashes and this is a great way to start the cricket year.”

David Collier, ECB chief executive, said: “NatWest CricketForce is the greatest mobilisation of volunteers in world cricket.

“This year I am delighted that we have a record number of clubs taking part and more people giving up their valuable time to ensure that cricket clubs are prepared for the forthcoming season.

NatWest CricketForce 2008 - Mike Gatting

Mike Gatting will be at NatWest CricketForce events in Surrey, Wiltshire and Suffolk over the weekend

“This sort of commitment is the very lifeblood of the sport and I thank every single person who takes part in NatWest CricketForce 2009.”

David Leighton, ECB club programmes manager, said: “Last year we saw clubs do more in two days through NatWest CricketForce than they had for years before. It made a real difference to clubs not only improving facilities but also increasing revenue and participation.”

Richard Taylor, brand director for NatWest added: "NatWest CricketForce is the largest volunteer initiative in UK Sport which strengthens communities and cricket across the country.

“The recent success of the England women's team is an outstanding example of what can be achieved through hard work, determination and team spirit and this is the ethos of the NatWest CricketForce programme.

“The massive effort clubs, volunteers and our own bank staff put into this event can benefit facilities nationwide for years to come and continue the legacy of the sport."

NatWest CricketForce Showcase events:

Ashtead CC, Surrey Friday April 3rd at 11.30am
Mike Gatting, Monty Panesar, Graeme Swann, Charlotte Edwards, Ebony Rainford-Brent, Holly Colvin, Lydia Greenway, Rosalie Birch the Women’s World Cup trophy

Calne CC, Wiltshire Saturday April 4th at 11.30am
Mike Gatting, Chris Tremlett, Chris Taylor, Tom Stayt, Caroline Atkins, Anya Shrubsole and the Women’s World Cup trophy

Highway CC, Warwickshire Saturday April 4th at 11.30am
Ashley Giles, Nicki Shaw, Jenny Gunn, Ian Westwood and members of the Warwickshire first team and academy, plus the LV County Championship Division Two trophy

Sacriston CC, Durham Sunday April 5th at 11.30am
Gerry Sutcliffe, minister for sport, Graeme ‘Foxy’ Fowler ex-England, Durham and Lancashire, players from the Durham Cricket academy and the LV County Championship Division One trophy

Ipswich CC, Suffolk Sunday April 5th at 11.30am
Mike Gatting and Luke Wright