England skipper Alastair Cook joined more than 200 volunteers at Dymock CC to kick off the 2016 NatWest CricketForce initiative.
The village club became the centre of the cricketing world as the Sky Sports cameras descended on West Gloucestershire along with former England captain Mike Gatting, ECB (England and Wales Cricket Board) chief executive Tom Harrison and head of participation Matt Dwyer.
The spotlight was turned on Dymock after they were selected as one of the ECB’s three showcase clubs for the annual event, which is designed to encourage clubs to get their grounds ready for the new season.
The club are currently in the process of building a new pavilion and making major improvements to their ground.
Alastair Cook said:
“It’s been a brilliant day. I was driving down the narrow lanes of Gloucestershire thinking what’s going to happen when I get here and to see so many people at this tiny little cricket club is a credit to Dymock and the people here. With the new pavilion this club’s in great hands for the next 50-100 years.”
During the day volunteers – including Cook, Gatting and Gloucestershire Cricket bowler Matt Taylor – lent a hand with everything from painting to pitch preparation and digging to counting ducks for the club’s annual duck race fundraiser.
Local MP Mark Harper also visited the ground as helpers gave up their time to remove old fencing and trees, clear out the old pavilion and serve refreshments.
Dymock CC chairman Martin Fowke said:
“It is beyond our wildest dreams to think that little old Dymock, with the help of the ECB, can get such prominent people to come down. It is fantastic timing for us with the last push for the new pavilion and it is great for our juniors as well.”
Over the last few years Dymock has grown off and on the pitch and now boasts three senior league teams and over 80 juniors.
It is this burgeoning youth section that has been the catalyst behind their new £300,000 pavilion – which they are still fundraising for.
They have launched a number of initiatives to help them and were recently boosted by a new life membership – from the 93-year-old oldest lady in the village.
“We really feel we have strong links with the community and that support can only serve us well in the future.
“We are 150 years old and this makes us really feel we are set for the next 150.”
As one of the ECB’s showcase clubs Dymock received additional support in the form of a new electronic scoreboard and flat sheet covers from Durrant Cricket and a free water remover from Bowdry.
They also had the free use of a specialist roller for their pitch, which was squared off for the first time in the club’s 150 year history by the ECB’s regional pitch advisor.
ECB club programmes manager Dave Leighton said:
“Every year we have a showcase club to highlight the activity and benefits of NatWest CricketForce. We’ve chosen Dymock because we’ve never been to Gloucestershire before.
“Dymock CC has been committed from day one to being part of CricketForce with over 70 people from the community packing into the village hall in January. It is all off the back of building the new pavilion. As well as the new £300,000 pavilion they want to make the ground sustainable and even look to add a third and fourth team ground.
“They said “we want this” and we were delighted to oblige.”
Throughout the day coaches and young leaders from Dymock provided free cricket activities to junior visitors through the ECB’s Cricket Factory and Alastair Cook took time out to sign autographs.
The event was supported by the Gloucestershire Cricket Board, with chief executive Steve Silk, clubs and programmes officer Eric Woodmason and new community coach Gareth Dawson all getting involved alongside George Drissell and Sam Groves from Gloucestershire Cricket’s Academy.
Dymock are one of 57 Glos clubs taking part in NatWest CricketForce this year.
If you are doing something for NatWest CricketForce please send photos and a brief write-up to firstname.lastname@example.org