Gatting has the cricketing cure for the winter blues

Wandsworth Guardian: Mucking in: Monty Panesar and Rachel Edwards get stuck at Ashtead CC in 2009 Mucking in: Monty Panesar and Rachel Edwards get stuck at Ashtead CC in 2009

Former England cricket captain Mike Gatting is urging the community to lend a helping hand at Ashtead Cricket Club next month.

The NatWest CricketForce scheme marks its 13th year in April, with Ashtead one of a record breaking 2,014 clubs registered to participate this season.

From April 4 to April 6, thousands will come together to clean, tidy, repair and revitalise clubhouses and grounds ahead of the new season.

Ashtead’s turn is on April 5, a year after Gatting rolled his sleeves up and got stuck into the work needed.

Gatting is not the only high-profile cricket name to pick up a paint brush at Ashtead as part of the scheme.

In 2009, England internationals Monty Panesar and Rachel Edwards took up the mantle.

And Gatting, who played 79 Tests and 92 ODIs for England, and is now the ECB’s managing director of cricket partnerships, could not recommend it highly enough after his time at the club.

He said: “We had a good day at Ashtead last time, digging a few trenches and having some beer afterwards. The club itself was very well supported by the local people.

“There was a really good spirit and, as always in clubs like that, you see new people as well as the stalwarts.

“You could see the wonderful community spirit there, turning the place into something that would be beneficial to a community that didn’t have much in that particular area.”

He added: “The passion shown by the people who originally got the club running was well rewarded by the people who turned up to help out.”

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 an event,” he said.

“In particular, the challenges presented by the 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 life-blood of the sport, and it is hugely important that we all pull together and look after playing facilities.”

Ashtead kick off their Surrey Championship Division Two campaign on May 10 with the visit of newly promoted Epsom.

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. Lend a hand at ecb.co.uk/nwcf

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