SUNDERLAND Cricket Club are urging the local community to come down and help them get one over Mother Nature as the excitement of the new season takes over, writes Luke Baker.
Next month will see the 13th annual NatWest CricketForce take place, with this year promising to be bigger than ever with a record breaking 2,014 clubs registered to take part in the three-day event.
From Friday, April 4 to Sunday, April 6, tens of thousands of club members and volunteers will come together to clean, tidy, repair and revitalise clubhouses and cricket grounds ahead of the new season.
One of those is Sunderland CC whose Ashbrooke Sports Ground was one of the many places battered by storms so far this year.
And Chairman Michael Nunn is hoping for all hands on deck to help repair the damage and prepare for the new season.
“We are part of a sports club that has recently received funding, so there is currently some professional work going on at the clubhouse,” said Nunn.
“This includes refurbishing the dressing rooms and putting in individual showers – which will obviously be a big plus for our junior teams in particular.
“We have also been given a grant to improve the drainage around the ground so that’s another positive.
“For the CricketForce event, we will probably be looking to paint a few fences and maybe the side screens.
“Our team plays football together throughout the winter and always meet up as a group for other activities – so we have a tight knit group here.
“It’s not like we break up for the winter and don’t see or talk to each other until the new season.”
The scheme is supported by former England captain and current ECB Managing Director of Cricket Partnerships Mike Gatting who insists that recent bad weather makes the 2014 edition even more crucial to clubs like Sunderland.
“It is wonderful news that a record-breaking number of clubs have already registered to hold a NatWest CricketForce event,” Gatting said.
“In particular, the challenges presented by the nationwide floods at the start of this year, means that the 2014 NatWest CricketForce effort is more important than ever before.
“Cricket clubs across the country represent the lifeblood of the sport, and it is hugely important that we all pull together and look after playing facilities.”
H NatWest CricketForce is an ECB project helping cricket clubs renovate and improve their facilities before each season with the help of members and their wider communities. Find out when your local club event is (4-6 April), and lend a hand at ecb.co.uk/nwcf