England captains Andrew Strauss and Charlotte Edwards will be swapping their cricket whites for paintbrushes and overalls when they launch this year’s NatWest CricketForce at Harrow St Mary’s CC in London on Friday, March 26th.
The pair will kick off the three-day long volunteering initiative refurbishing local cricket clubs around the country. Fellow England star Graeme Swann, and his Nottinghamshire team-mates will take part at Gedling Colliery CC, near Nottingham on Saturday March 27th.
The programme will round off on Sunday, March 28th when Scarborough CC, will invite England pace bowler James Anderson and former Test Umpire Harold ‘Dickie’ Bird to join forces with volunteers and NatWest staff aiming to rejuvenate one of the oldest and most distinguished cricket grounds in the country.
The 2010 NatWest CricketForce will be the biggest in the project’s nine-year history with more than 1,500 clubs taking part and an estimated 85,000 volunteers: a bigger volunteering programme than the Olympics.
Richard Taylor, Brand Director at NatWest, and hundreds of NatWest staff will also be honing their DIY skills and helping out at local clubs across the country. Richard said: “NatWest has been helping community cricket for the last 30 years and we're really proud to be continuing to support the ECB and the grassroots game. NatWest CricketForce can transform a ground in a matter of hours and provides a real sense of satisfaction for everyone involved. This year, we have hundreds of dedicated NatWest staff ready and waiting to roll their sleeves up and get stuck in”
ECB Club Programmes Manager, David Leighton, said: “We want every sports-lover nationwide to show support for their local cricket club this year by getting involved in NatWest CricketForce. Whether it’s by painting a bench, repairing the score-box or mending nets, there are many ways in which volunteers can make a difference and bring a real sense of community spirit to the event.”
England captain Andrew Strauss, who will be joined by his Middlesex team-mates for the launch event at Harrow St Mary’s CC, said: “NatWest CricketForce provides an excellent opportunity to support grassroots cricket. I’ve been involved since 2005 and seen the enthusiasm and difference communities can make when they pull together. This year myself and the England players will be getting our hands dirty and we encourage everyone to get involved to ensure the foundations of the game for the next generation of England cricketers are stronger than ever.”
England women’s team captain Charlotte Edwards said: “I’m really looking forward to playing my part in NatWest CricketForce and helping give something back to the local cricket clubs who do so much to put cricket at the heart of our communities. This year promises to be our best yet and we are delighted that a record number of clubs will be taking part.”