Tuesday 1 November 2005 

Vikram Solanki Launches NatWest CricketForce

Worcestershire and England batsman Vikram Solanki helped launch NatWest CricketForce 2006 today by returning to Shifnal Cricket Club in Shropshire having visited the club earlier this year as part of NatWest CricketForce 2005.

NatWest CricketForce encourages cricket supporters, their friends and families to give something back to their local community cricket club by volunteering to undertake major renovations to clubhouses and grounds and NatWest CricketForce 2006 will take place on the weekend of April 8-9 next year.

Vikram, who will soon join the England party in Pakistan for the one-day series, was one of a number of England players who took part in NatWest CricketForce 2005, travelling by helicopter to visit several cricket clubs across the country during the weekend.

Last year 665 cricket clubs across the country took part in the scheme and more than 50,000 volunteers participated contributing an estimated £15m of investment.

David Collier, England and Wakes Cricket Board chief executive, said today: "NatWest CricketForce 2005 was one of the major successes in a summer of triumphs for English cricket.

"I know that everyone at the ECB is determined that NatWest CricketForce 2006 will build on last year's achievements. We are delighted that NatWest are again the partners in this initiative which we are sure will encourage further development of grassroots cricket."

Helen Page, brand director, NatWest said: "This year NatWest CricketForce helped improve facilities and raise the profile of hundreds of clubs within their local communities. NatWest and it's staff are delighted to play a part in this initiative and hope this year's success encourages even more clubs to get involved in 2006."

Dave Leighton, ECB's national development manager (clubs), said: "Not only did we generate £15m worth of investment in cricket clubs last year but also engaged with the local communities and businesses.

"We were delighted at the support we received from all areas of the game - particularly from players like Vikram and other members of the England set up. This year we hope to build on last year, with the aid of county and minor county players, to make 2006 an even more successful event.

"Like last year we want to see volunteers painting and repairing pavilions, scoreboards and sightscreens as well as looking at building facilities, such as barbecues, that can help increase the income of clubs."

Leighton also revealed that part of the legacy of NatWest CricketForce 2005 was the development of 50 new junior sections of cricket clubs focusing on six to nine year olds. This project was part funded by Sportsmatch, who donated £50,000.

Vikram said: "Everyone of the England set up started at the grassroots level and it's good that we can help put something back. I know that next spring the England team will be on tour in India but they will be behind their county colleagues and all the volunteers, who are aiming to make NatWest CricketForce 2006 a real success."

NatWest CricketForce 2006 - club registration:

Clubs can register for NatWest CricketForce 2006 online at www.ecb.co.uk/cricketforce
After completing the registration process clubs are then sent information on how they can drive NatWest CricketForce in their own area (e.g. generate local media interest, suggested renovation initiatives, recruiting volunteers etc.)
Any cricket club in England and Wales is eligible, there are no criteria for registration