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Coronavirus: Essex Cricket launch ‘Together Through This Test’ campaign

PUBLISHED: 13:00 21 May 2020 | UPDATED: 19:32 21 May 2020

General view of the wicket and pavilion prior to Essex CCC vs Surrey CCC, Specsavers County Championship Division 1 Cricket at The Cloudfm County Ground on 18th September 2019

General view of the wicket and pavilion prior to Essex CCC vs Surrey CCC, Specsavers County Championship Division 1 Cricket at The Cloudfm County Ground on 18th September 2019

©TGS Photo tgsphoto.co.uk +44 1376 553468

Essex Cricket have jointly launched ‘Together Through This Test’ – a nationwide campaign to shine a light on how the cricket family has reached out to local communities during the coronavirus pandemic.

The campaign will highlight some of the unsung heroes from across the professional and recreational game as well as providing updates on, and launching new, cricket-led initiatives that the general public can get involved in to help support their local community.

More than 200 campaigns have already been launched across cricket in England and Wales from volunteers at local clubs embarking on long-distance charity runs to players, coaches and staff at first-class counties phoning members to check on their wellbeing.

Essex have launched several campaigns to support the local community over the last few months, such as a Community Outreach Programme, the backing of Supporting Humanity and an Alternative Cricket Tea Campaign.

The Community Outreach Programme saw Essex players and coaches call over 1,000 elderly and vulnerable Essex Members to check on their health and wellbeing.

At the time, club captain Tom Westley said: “It’s been great to get involved in the Outreach Programme, and we’ve been blown away by the nice message received following the calls.

“Many of those we’ve spoken to are either isolating on their own or as a couple in line with UK Government advice, so I think they’ve appreciated the opportunity to speak and about and share stories from last year.”

In early April the club teamed up with Supporting Humanity to provide hot meals for NHS staff in 13 hospitals across Essex and London.

Since then, the Essex players and staff have helped prepare, package and deliver 12,000 meals, with Graham Gooch commenting: “The key workers are doing a fantastic job. Everyone in the community in east London, Essex and across the country are really appreciative for all they are doing for people in need at this terrible time – they deserve a medal, all of them.”

Last weekend the club also launched the Alternative Cricket Tea Campaign in support of Chelmsford Foodbank. The aim was to provide help for people in the local community who are experiencing a crisis, with Chelmsford Foodbank experiencing a high demand for food and basic amenities.

Seven local clubs across the region supported this campaign, including Brentwood, Frenford, Great Totham, Harold Wood, Old Chelmsfordians, Wanstead & Snaresbrook and West Mersea, whilst Barking and Rainham plan to hold food collections later on this month.

Today’s launch of Together Through This Test marks the collective response of cricket at all levels with a powerful short film, narrated by cricket fan Stephen Fry, that underlines the unique quality of a game where patience and digging in for the greater good is a virtue installed within all who play, watch and enjoy the sport.

The ECB has set up a COVID-19 resource hub on www.ecb.co.uk/covid-19 to offer assistance, focussing on:

*Providing physical and mental health support to the general public, with NHS information, a Vitality ‘Fit 4 Cricket’ series and a Lord’s Taverners online hub for cricket-based activities.

*Delivering fun and educational interactive resources for children in partnership with Chance to Shine.

*Supporting the recreational game by providing emergency funds and resources.

The key initiatives to date include:

*Running 21 programmes providing food to NHS staff, the vulnerable and the homeless.

*Supporting the isolated and vulnerable with #MakeThatCall where players, coaches, staff and former players ring older members and stewards from their club.

*Our cricket clubs being used for COVID-19 testing and blood donations.

You may also want to watch:

*Three England Women’s players offered their services to the NHS – Heather Knight, Tammy Beaumont and Sophia Dunkley.

*Players helping to create content to keep families entertained and active during lockdown with over 80 million video views to date.

*The Lord’s Taverners creating a free online hub to support disadvantaged and disabled young people with physical activity and mental wellbeing during lockdown.

*Running 49 fundraising initiatives. These range from England’s Physical Disability men’s team collectively running a marathon a day for ten days, in aid of the Lord’s Taverners, to a five-year-old cricket fan from Cheshire doing the 1,000 Bat Challenge for the NHS after hospital staff saved his life.

*Launching three financial schemes to provide immediate support for our national network of cricket clubs and leagues.

From today, five to 11-year-old children and their parents can access eight weeks’ worth of curriculum-based educational resources covering topics from maths & English to art & PE, delivered in partnership with Chance to Shine.

This hub is not only a resource to help people during lockdown but will also provide information and support to the cricket community when cricket is phased back into society. The ECB and wider cricket network will be launching and supporting further initiatives in the coming weeks including:

*The Together through this Test auction launching tomorrow (May 22) at 3pm running until Friday May 29 at 3pm. Run by Nottinghamshire CCC and involving all 18 first-class counties, the MCC and the Professional Cricketers Association, it will raise money for local charities across England and Wales. The auction will be hosted on http://www.cricketauction.co.uk.

*#DesignOurShirt competition, in partnership with New Balance, inviting kids to create a new England shirt.

*#RaiseTheBat, an out-of-home campaign using billboards to celebrate key workers from the cricket family.

*‘Safe Haven’, a programme offering club grounds as safe spaces for elderly and vulnerable people to exercise as lockdown eases.

*A nationwide campaign when lockdown lifts, in partnership with NatWest, to help the cricket network get back on its feet and recognise the challenge we have overcome.

Eileen Whelan Ash, 108, is the world’s oldest international cricketer having represented England either side of the second World War.

She said: “No cricket was played during the war, but the thought of it kept us going and gave us hope. I think it’s the same now. Even without a ball being bowled yet this summer.

“I’m very proud to see the sport I’ve loved all my life playing its part to help people during this terrible crisis, keeping them hopeful of better times ahead.”

Clare Connor, ECB Managing Director, Women’s Cricket added: “Our sport means different things to different people but if this crisis has shown us one thing, it’s the way the cricket family pulls together when times are tough.

“We are inspired by and grateful to the whole cricket family from the grassroots of the game right up to our elite teams for their incredible team spirit, for not just thinking about their own survival but also about how they can support the wider community.

“We hope this campaign will shine a light on the amazing work being done, help signpost people to the support they need and provide a feeling of hope and solidarity for cricket fans during this challenging time.”

Lastly, Stephen Fry commented: “It’s wonderful how patient everyone has been during this incredibly difficult time.

“Like many cricket fans, I long to hear the sound of leather on willow again, but while we wait it out, we do of course have to stick together and do what we can to support each other. It was a pleasure to be able to read Jimmy Lee’s poem which so wonderfully connects the national game with the national spirit.”

For more information on the resources available, visit www.ecb.co.uk/covid-19. To become a volunteer, please visit the website and contact your local county club.


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