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Ben Stokes leads tribute for key workers as #raisethebat Test gets underway

Ben Stokes leads tribute for key workers as #raisethebat Test gets underway
Ben Stokes leads tribute for key workers as #raisethebat Test gets underway
©Durham CCC

Durham’s Ben Stokes honours key workers by wearing local doctor’s name on his shirt as the first #raisethebat Test gets underway.

Key worker heroes from Durham were today honoured by having their names displayed on the training shirts of the England Men’s Test team ahead of the start of the first #raisethebat Test against the West Indies.

The three-Test series, taking place behind closed doors, is honouring and celebrating the heroes who have been going above and beyond to help others during the COVID-19 pandemic.

Today, the England Men’s players and coaches took to the pitch at the Ageas Bowl, Southampton, wearing the names of key workers on their training shirts before the start of the match. The people named on the shirts were all nominated by their local cricket clubs and include teachers, doctors, nurses, carers and other vital professions.

Each key worker will now receive the shirt bearing their name, signed by the player who wore it, to thank them for the work they’ve been doing. Their names and photos will also be highlighted in broadcast partners’ Sky and BBC’s coverage and displayed across the ground on the big screens and LED banners.

Ben Stokes, who is captaining England in the first Test while Joe Root is away for the birth of his second child, took to the pitch wearing the name of Durham-local Vikas Kumar, a specialist in anaesthetics and critical care at Darlington Memorial Hospital.

Through the pandemic Dr Kumar, a keen cricketer who plays at Cowgate Cricket Club in Newcastle and the Gilli Boys Amateur Club in Darlington, has been working on the frontline while also being there for his family at home.

Ben Stokes said: “We’re only able to play this Test match because of the amazing job that key workers up and down the country have done to help us through this pandemic. Wearing their names is a real honour for us, and is a small sign of our appreciation for the incredible work they have done. They have truly gone in to bat for us all, and it makes me proud of how the whole cricket family has responded to help us get through these unprecedented times.”

Dr Vikas Kumar, whose name featured on Ben Stokes’s shirt, said: “The past four months have been very difficult, but it was a wonderful surprise to find out that Ben Stokes of all people is wearing my name on his training shirt. So many of my colleagues at work and at the cricket club have been working so hard and made big sacrifices, so this is for them as well.”

Durham and England Pace bowler Mark Wood will also recognise local hero Susan Bainbridge on his training shirt. Susan is a volunteer at the North East Ambulance Service but in her spare time runs Zumba classes for older people throughout Teesdale. During the pandemic, the Middleton-in-Teesdale cricketer has taken her exercise classes online through Zoom to ensure the community can keep active.