Wednesday 28 March 2007 

Cook Lends Support To NatWest CricketForce

Essex batsman Alastair Cook will attend the launch of NatWest CricketForce 2007 – the largest volunteer programme in British sport – at Shepperton Cricket Club in Surrey on Friday (March 30).

Record participation levels are expected during this year’s initiative with County Cricket Clubs throughout England and Wales undertaking NatWest CricketForce initiatives in conjunction with their local clubs during the weekend of March 30 to April 1.

Last year a total of 1062 clubs took part in NatWest CricketForce and more than 70,000 volunteers, including some of cricket’s biggest names such as England stars Monty Panesar and Cook, carried out renovation work at clubs valued at more than £30m.

22-year-old left-hander Cook will once again lend his support and will be joined by England one-day international Stuart Broad, ex-England captain and Surrey player Alec Stewart, England Women’s Captain Charlotte Edwards and England Women’s international Caroline Atkins. They along with David Collier, the Chief Executive of the England and Wales Cricket Board, and local MP David Wilshire will be at Shepperton to launch this year’s NatWest CricketForce.

The media are invited to attend Shepperton Cricket Club from 11.30am and the England players attending as well as David Collier, the ECB Chief Executive, will be available for interview. For further information, please contact the ECB Communications Department - 0207 4321 200

Meanwhile, Cook’s Essex team-mates will be visiting local teams on Saturday (March 31) to play their part in NatWest CricketForce 2007.

Grant Flower, Mark Pettini and Graham Napier will be among the Essex players attending clubs across the county. In addition, the NatWest Pro40 trophy, won by Essex Eagles in 2006, will also be making its way to club grounds during the day.

NatWest CricketForce background

Another record number of clubs –1128 – have registered for the NatWest CricketForce and it is hoped that more than 80,000 volunteers will turn out to prepare their clubs for the 2007 season during the weekend.

Stuart Broad, fresh from a successful England A campaign in Bangladesh, said: “NatWest CricketForce is a terrific opportunity for not only the players, but everyone involved in cricket, to get down to their local club and help out for a few hours. This initiative is aimed at helping the vast array of people involved in their clubs at a local level.

“Improved facilities can only help cricket to grow at a grassroots level which is vital for our game and exciting for the future crop of England cricketers coming through the community.”

David Collier, ECB Chief Executive said: “NatWest CricketForce inspires the community to get involved in cricket on a volunteer basis. It thrusts local cricket to the forefront of the local community and the fact that more clubs are involved this year than any other, simply underlines the connection this initiative has with clubs throughout England and Wales.”

Across the weekend England A Captain Mike Yardy will be joined by teammate Matt Prior, Sussex captain Chris Adams, Sussex player Mark Robinson and England Women Internationals Rosalie Birch and Holly Calvin at Bells Yew Green CC on Saturday March 31. Saturday will also see Geraint Jones of Kent and England Women’s Internationals Sarah Taylor and Beth Morgan supporting Macknade CC in Kent, while Katherine Brunt will lend her support to Cheadle Hulme CC in Cheshire.

Warwickshire vice-captain Ashley Giles will team up with England A representative Stuart Broad, Leicestershire teammate Jeremy Snape, team coach Tim Boon and England Women Internationals Nicky Shaw, Jenny Gunn and Jane Smit to support Sileby Town CC on Sunday April 1. Similarly on that day Somerset captain Ian Blackwell will be joined by teammates and England Women’s International Stephanie Davies at Hampset CC.

Dave Leighton, ECB Club Programmes Manager, said: “This year we will easily outstrip the number of volunteers that the organisers of the 2012 Olympics in London are hoping to attract to work on the Games.

“This is the biggest self help weekend in sport and, for the third year in succession, we will set records in terms of the number of volunteers, the number of participating clubs and the value of the work carried out.”

Helen Page, Marketing Director, NatWest Retail Markets said: "The impact NatWest CricketForce has in local communities exceeds expectations every year. The massive effort clubs, players, volunteers, and our own bank staff put into this single weekend can benefit facilities nationwide for years to come. As a bank we are focused on supporting local communities and NatWest CricketForce offers us another way to play our part. That's why we're offering each member of NatWest staff involved the chance to receive up to £500 for their local club as part of our Community Cashback Award Scheme."

Members of the public are advised to contact their local County Club for details of player activities.

NatWest CricketForce Showcase events are:

Shepperton CC, Surrey - Friday March 30 from 11.30am

Stuart Broad (Leicestershire), Alastair Cook, (England and Essex) Charlotte Edwards, Caroline Atkins (Eng. Women), Alec Stewart (Ex-England Capt), David Wilshire MP

Bells Yew Green CC, Sussex - Saturday March 31 from 11.30am

Matt Prior, Michael Yardy, Chris Adams (Sussex), Mark Robinson (Sussex) Rosalie Birch, Holly Colvin (Eng. Women), Charles Hendry MP

Macknade CC, Kent, Saturday March 31 from 11.30am

Geraint Jones (Kent), Sarah Taylor, Beth Morgan (Eng. Women), Hugh Robertson MP

Cheadle Hulme CC, Cheshire - Saturday March 31 from 11.30am

Katherine Brunt (Eng.Women), Mark Hunter MP

Sileby Town CC, Loughborough – Sunday April 1 from 11.30am

Ashley Giles (Warwickshire), Stuart Broad, Jeremy Snape, Tim Boon (Leicestershire), Nicky Shaw, Jenny Gunn, Jane Smit (Eng. Women), Andy Reed MP

Hampset CC, Bath – Sunday April 1 from 11.30am

Ian Blackwell (Somerset), Stephanie Davies (Eng. Women)