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“Get stuck in”: thousands of clubs across country get ready for new season

Former England cricketer Matthew Hoggard and England women’s Danielle Wyatt will join tens of thousands of club members and volunteers this weekend as the nation unites to clean, tidy, repair and revitalise clubhouses and cricket grounds across the country as part of the thirteenth annual NatWest CricketForce (NWCF) event.

Hoggard and Wyatt will be lending a hand at Forton Cricket Club in Shropshire tomorrow, to launch another record breaking year for the grassroots volunteering initiative. They will be joined by ECB’s Managing Director of Cricket Partnerships, Mike Gatting, to help tackle a wide-ranging list of jobs, which includes building a score box and painting the changing rooms, to make sure that the club is ready for their opening match of the season on Sunday April 13.

In addition to getting stuck into the restoration effort at Forton CC, Hoggard and Wyatt will also draw the “NatWest Famous Fridays” winners – where three lucky NWCF registered clubs will win a free twelve month subscription to Sky Sports. The winning clubs will also have an ex-England cricket legend come to their clubhouse one Friday night to watch a NatWest T20 Blast match with them. 

Speaking about the impact and importance of NatWest CricketForce, former England bowler, Matthew Hoggard, commented: “Throughout my international career I was lucky enough to play at some of the best cricket grounds in the world – all of which are maintained by full-time professional ground-staff.  At the grassroots of the game however, it is down to the generosity and hard work of committed volunteers to look after playing facilities.

“NatWest CricketForce is a superb initiative, which provides a framework to ensure that cricket clubs across the country can access resources and support to allow them to start their season on the front foot.”   

England women’s cricketer, Danielle Wyatt, said: “Good quality playing facilities are so important for club cricket, and it is fantastic that NatWest CricketForce exists to help clubs and the local community come together and prepare for the start of the summer.  It’s an amazing thought that more than 2000 cricket clubs around England will be taking part in the event this weekend. I wish everyone the best of luck with their endeavours – get stuck in!”

Danielle Wyatt said: "It’s an amazing thought that more than 2000 cricket clubs around England will be taking part in the event this weekend."

Former England captain and ECB’s Managing Director of Cricket Partnerships, Mike Gatting, added: “NatWest CricketForce continues to go from strength to strength, and it is fantastic that we have been able to comprehensively break the 2000 registered clubs mark this year. The initiative remains the UK’s largest annual sports volunteering programme, and we anticipate that tens of thousands of people up and down the country will lend a hand at their local cricket club this weekend, which is a remarkable effort.

“In addition to bringing players, members and the community together, the 2014 NatWest CricketForce programme will result in several million pounds worth of time and resource being invested into clubs. In particular, it is fantastic that NWCF registered clubs can continue to access exclusive discounts on a range of cricket and ground equipment through ECB partnerships with multiple key suppliers such as Jewson. 

“The bad weather at the start of the year makes this investment even more significant, as clubs are faced with repairing the extensive damage inflicted by the severe flooding, high winds and storms. Cricket clubs across the country represent the lifeblood of the sport, and it is hugely important that we all pull together and look after playing facilities.”

ECB Chief Executive, David Collier, said: “The 2014 NatWest CricketForce weekend is set to be the biggest event in the thirteen years that it has been running and this year we have more clubs taking part than ever before. This is a wonderful effort and clearly demonstrates the value of the initiative and I would like to thank NatWest, cricket’s longest standing commercial partner, for their continued support of the event.” 

Martyn Wilson, Senior Sponsorship Manager at NatWest, said: "Cricket clubs really do rely on volunteers to keep clubs alive 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 involved in. This year, NatWest has given clubs an additional boost by entering all registered clubs into our “Famous Fridays” draw which will see three of them host a cricketing legend during the season. This is a great opportunity for the winning clubs to host a fundraising event and invite the whole community along.”

In 2014 a record number of cricket clubs (2,228) have registered to take part in NatWest CricketForce.