Former England captain Mike Gatting is urging the local community to lend a helping hand during this weekend’s NatWest CricketForce events.
Last year, the former Ashes-winning skipper paid a visit to Belper Meadows Cricket Club to get involved, and says he loved every minute of his time spent there.
The 13th annual NatWest CricketForce event take place from April 4-6 with Belper Meadows one of a record-breaking 2,014 clubs registered to participate.
Thousands will come together to clean, tidy, repair and revitalise clubhouses and cricket grounds across the country ahead of the new season.
Belper Meadows will be among that number on April 4, a year after Gatting rolled his sleeves up and got stuck into the work needed.
And Gatting, who played 79 Tests and 92 ODIs for England, and is now the ECB’s Managing Director of Cricket Partnerships, admits he couldn’t recommend it highly enough.
“Belper’s an old cotton town and there was a big factory, which had a sports club that was the hub of the community,” he said.
“Like all those things, the different parts of the sports club went their separate ways and the cricket pavilion got a bit messy.
“On the day that I was there they were taking some wooden pallets and turning them into a picket fence.
“We got it all finished by the end of the day and we could see the delight on their faces when we got it all done.
“Meanwhile there were people smartening up the viewing balcony and patio, doing up the changing room and painting the bar.
“It was done by the bulk of the youngsters, who stayed on most of the day.
“The chief executive and chairman of Derbyshire came down with some county players to play with some of the youngsters on the ground and also help out around the place.
“As I left in the evening to go elsewhere these guys were still playing with the young kids.”
And with severe storms having battered England during the winter, Gatting is adamant this year’s NatWest CricketForce is more important than ever.
“It is wonderful news that a record-breaking number of clubs have already registered to hold a NatWest CricketForce event,” Gatting added.
“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 and lend a hand at www.ecb.co.uk/nwcf