Updated: Friday, 7th August 2020 @ 1:30pm

Protect cricket’s lifeblood: Former England man Mike Gatting wants small clubs to flourish not struggle

Protect cricket’s lifeblood: Former England man Mike Gatting wants small clubs to flourish not struggle

| By Ashley Birch

Lymm Oughtrington Park Cricket Club are urging the community to come down and help them begin the new season with a bang both on and off the pitch.

This weekend will see the 13th annual NatWest CricketForce take place with Lymm Oughtrington Park one of a record-breaking 2,014 clubs registered to participate.

From Friday April 4 to Sunday April 6, thousands will come together to clean, tidy, repair and revitalise clubhouses and grounds in time for the new season.

Lymm Oughtrington Park will be among that number on April 5 as it calls on support to get its home ground back up to scratch and convince new members to join.

And club chairman Dave Cowburn insists with help from NatWest CricketForce they can start the new season as they mean to go on.

“Like a lot of clubs, we have a general shortage of players and we need some help,” he said. “We have two days, one in April and one later that we do ourselves, and we get quite a good turnout in the spring.

“We’ve got things like painting the fencing on the edge of the field, generally tidying up the debris off the field, painting the clubhouse and doing a bit of refurbishment to the dressing room.

“We have quite a few pre-season events going on. We have indoor nets and things so once people join in those it gets the season into swing.

“We’ve been involved in it for a long time now. I’ve been at the club quite a few years, the last eight, and we’ve done it every year since I’ve been there.”

The scheme is supported by former England captain and current ECB Managing Director of Cricket Partnerships Mike Gatting.

And Gatting, who played 79 Tests and 92 ODIs for England, insists the recent bad weather makes the 2014 edition even more crucial to clubs like Lymm Oughtrington Park.

“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 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.”

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

Main image courtesy of Lord's Cricket Ground via YouTube, with thanks.