“A great tribute to the power of cricket.”

Esther Jones Russell, senior volunteering manager at the ECB, reflects on the hugely successful Get Set Weekend 2024.

Imagine Lord’s, full, with queues outside of even more people waiting to get in. That’s how many volunteers took part in this year’s brilliant Cricket Collective Get Set Weekend, with 33,000 people involved at 1,600 clubs across England and Wales.

If I sit back and think about that, it’s incredible. All those people came together simply to ensure cricket games can take place and that clubs can operate at their very best during the coming season. It’s a great tribute to the power of cricket.

When clubs register for the weekend, they each provide some details about what they’ve got planned. This year, as ever, there was a whole range of tasks – from getting pitches ready by replacing sight screens, bringing out new pitch covers, and tidying things up through to bigger projects supported by grants, such as making facilities suitable for women’s teams or building accessible toilets. Others did practical work around sustainability, including a few who installed solar panels.

To provide extra support, the ECB organised a prize draw for 1,000 Jewson vouchers ranging from £25 to £500. That was great, because we know each of those vouchers will help with something practical at a club that needs it. We also provided marketing resources and some extra touches like bunting and drinks coasters.

But what was really positive this year was the focus on the community and inspiring The Cricket Collective, the game’s army of volunteers. There were loads of social activities planned, and these became even more important in areas where the weather was bad. There were discos, quizzes, barbecues – all done to bring people together at their local cricket club. England cricketer Tom Hartley visited South West Manchester Cricket Club, for example, where fun kids’ games encouraged entire families to get involved. It meant the day wasn’t only about getting jobs done, but was also filled with enjoyment and laughter. 

Tom Hartley volunteering at Get Set Weekend

I was also struck by how the Get Set Weekend doesn’t just reach existing cricket volunteers. In Essex, I was at Kelvedon & Feering Cricket Club with ECB Chief Executive Richard Gould. When I chatted to the volunteers, lots of them weren’t players or members, but many of them do pop down during the summer and spend an afternoon or two watching the cricket. They’d come along to chip in because they recognised how important the club was to their community.

By putting on food and making it a bit of an event, hopefully clubs like the one I visited can inspire and engage a new bank of volunteers. It was a great opportunity to advertise a club, show exactly what it stands for, and remind everyone of its potential within the wider community.

Ultimately, a cricket club isn’t just about cricket results: it’s a place where people support each other and keep each other going. Looking through some of the social media activity, there are just hundreds of pictures of people smiling and having a nice time together. It’s so positive.

Cricket wouldn’t exist without its volunteers – and we know that. So it is vital that we promote opportunities like The Get Set Weekend to celebrate and support the people who help make cricket happen. Volunteering brings people so much joy. It increases people’s confidence, teaches new skills, and gives new opportunities. We want to showcase that and inspire others to get involved, too.

The fantastic thing about being part of The Cricket Collective is that there is a plethora of opportunities. Whatever your background or skills or interests, there’ll be something you can do. Just introduce yourself to your local club. You won’t regret it!

You can find out more about The Cricket Collective here or find your local club using the ECB Club Finder.