The England and Wales Cricket Board (ECB) has today launched ‘Together Through This Test’, a nationwide campaign shining a light on the work undertaken by the game in response to COVID-19 and highlighting the resources available to the public.

Cricket staff, volunteers and players across the country – from both the professional and the recreational game – have already taken part in over 200 initiatives during lockdown.

Projects include long-distance charity runs, delivering food to the vulnerable and a dedicated phone support service for those left isolated by coronavirus.  

A powerful short film, narrated by cricket fan Stephen Fry, captures the spirit of the cricket community and celebrates the way in which society has come together during this difficult period.

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

Initiatives 

The key initiatives across the game 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.
  • Three England Women’s players have offered their services to the NHS – Heather Knight, Tammy Beaumont and Sophia Dunkley.
  • We have produced social media content, including content of our players, to keep families entertained and active during lockdown with over 90 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 5-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 and a financial toolkit created by NatWest.

From today, 5 to 11-year-old children and their parents can access eight weeks’ worth of curriculum-based educational resources covering topics from maths and English to art and PE, delivered in partnership with Chance to Shine.

Information and support 

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 (Friday 22 May) at 15:00 and ending Friday 29 May at 15:00. 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.
  • NatWest CricketForce, a nationwide campaign when lockdown lifts to help the cricket network get back on its feet and recognise the challenge we have overcome.

Eileen Whelan-Ash, aged 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 said: “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.”

Stephen Fry said: “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, please visit www.ecb.co.uk/covid-19.