England star Jonny Bairstow and former captain Mike Gatting were in Denby on Sunday as a record number of Derbyshire cricket clubs took part in the NatWest CricketForce event.
Alongside England ladies’ international Anya Shrubsole, Bairstow and Gatting lent a helping hand as the Denby club used the weekend to convert part of their existing pavilion into a new changing room for their women’s and girls’ section.
The club also got stuck into plans to build a new scoreboard and replace fencing around their pitch ahead of the new season, which starts this month.
The three-day CricketForce event, which was backed by the England and Wales Cricket Board (ECB), was a huge success across the county. Facilities were rejuvenated and prepared, and thousands of club members and volunteers came together to clean, tidy, repair and revitalise clubhouses and cricket grounds.
Derbyshire clubs again got behind the annual initiative in huge numbers, with a staggering total of 94 clubs registered to take part. And the county’s senior cricket development manager Mick Glenn was delighted with the response.
“It was fantastic that so many Derbyshire clubs valued the initiative as a way to make sure they start the season on the front foot,” said Glenn.
“NatWest CricketForce can make a real difference and acts as the perfect platform from which to start the summer.
“It can energise the club and build team spirit while everyone can enjoy an afternoon at the club”
Derbyshire clubs have been rewarded for their commitment over the years. In 2005, two more England stars, Ashes-winning duo James Anderson and Matthew Hoggard, visited Wirksworth, while in 2011, Sawley and Long Eaton Park took centre stage as a national showcase club. They were able to totally refurbish their facilities with the help of some 200 volunteers.
Belper Meadows Cricket Club were the beneficiaries of ECB support in 2013 when Gatting, another Ashes winner, provided a helping hand.
In total, is is believed that between 2,000 and 3,000 volunteers from across the county took part in this year’s weekend, which was also blessed, for the most part, by fine weather. The event certainly whetted the appetite of Derbyshire cricket enthusiasts for the 2017 campaign.