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Big day goes like a dream

Posted in NatWest CricketForce 2008

After two months of preparation our big day finally arrived. NatWest CricketForce came to town - well actually the village of Kirby Muxloe.

Friday January 4 2008 was a date members of Kirby Muxloe Cricket Club had eagerly awaited with the same excitement and anticipation as Christmas Day. We all knew what our big present was going to be.

On the morning, feeling apprehensive about the day ahead I tuned in to Radio Leicester at 8.00am on my way to the ground. The Breakfast Show presenter played a record and then informed listeners about a unique CricketForce event being held locally, and declared that a radio crew would be broadcasting live at 8.20am from Kirby Muxloe Cricket Ground.

I roared into the car park at 8.10am to be welcomed by Dave Leighton from ECB (I’m sure he glanced at his watch), the ECB and NatWest teams, and the Radio Leicester broadcaster - who greeted me with, “We’re on in about five minutes, where’s the best spot for reception?”

My first live radio interview went ok. Dave clearly loves nothing more than having a microphone pushed in his face, and I thought at the time, “Rule number one - anything media, make sure I’ve got Dave within range.”

Although my biggest fear on the day was bad weather and whether anyone except the Kirby boys, ECB, and NatWest would turn up, the weather was fine, and by 9.15am we already had a sizeable crowd gathering.

At this point the Dulux Decorator Centre man and van (no dog) turned up with all the generously donated paint. As he stepped from his cab he was greeted by flash photography and camera crews. This was all worthy publicity for Dulux, and their man happily posed for pictures with five litres of vinyl matt in each hand.

The England team bus rode impressively in to the car park. Watching the U19 boys get off and pose for a few snaps in their England tracksuits, at our club, was unbelievable! Surely they were 20 minutes and 15 miles from where they should’ve been at the National Performance Centre at Loughborough University?

Everyone got changed into their one-off limited edition NatWest CricketForce T-shirts and gathered in the club to listen to a series of presentations and de-briefs of who’s doing what and when.

So, pleasantries out the way we all strode down to the ground at 10.00am to get stuck into planned projects.

Working in three designated multi background teams on pavilion build, picket fence and wall painting, and ‘miscellaneous’ responsible for clearing, compost area building and skip filling, the 150-strong volunteer force was soon in full flow.

The army of pavilion builders, including the industrious Mike Gatting, were soon impressively in their stride; external and internal walls flew up with the help of motivational music, amusing banter and bacon and sausage cobs courtesy of ASDA, who generously fed and watered us for two days.

Equally impressive were the Painting Team, fortunate to be led by newly appointed ‘Director of Painting’ Paul Hammond, and the Miscellaneous Team equally well led by the inspirational Paul Fletcher.

A special mention at this stage to the army of local and regional Nat West volunteers who swapped their uniforms and suits for jeans and NWCF T-shirts to work tirelessly all day, stopping only for a few photo opportunities with their mascot Wicket the Pig. Well played Nat West!

The England U19 boys were top class as well. Under the watchful eye of John Abrahams and Andy Pick, they worked hard all day and certainly impressed us with their willingness to get stuck in.

All the best for the World Cup boys, we’d all love you to bring the cup home and maybe parade it at the grand opening of our new pavilion. No pressure! As an added incentive we’ll provide the food and drink again, but this time we promise there won’t be a paintbrush in sight.