Nottinghamshire’s Stuart Broad will wear a shirt bearing the name of cricketing key worker during training for the upcoming Test Series between England and West Indies.
The ECB has announced that the three-match encounter will be christened the #RaiseTheBat series in honour of those from the world of cricket who have been on the frontline during the Covid-19 pandemic.
On day one of behind-closed-doors series (Wednesday 8 July), the England Men’s players will pay tribute to cricket’s heroes by wearing the names of key workers on their training shirts before the start of the match – shining a light on their bravery and sacrifice as fans watch live from home.
The individuals named on the shirts have all been nominated by their local cricket clubs and include teachers, doctors, nurses, carers and social workers.
“As we stage the first international sporting competition in the UK since Covid-19 began, we want to pay tribute to the people who have bravely played their part during this crisis. Through the #RaiseTheBat Test Series, we will show our gratitude to key workers,” said ECB Chief Executive Officer Tom Harrison.
“It has been a long and challenging journey to cricket’s return and while this pales in comparison to what the country has faced, we hope the #RaiseTheBat Test Series will bring some enjoyment and light relief to people’s lives.”
England Men’s Test captain Joe Root added: “We’ve waited a long time for this moment, and we wouldn’t be here without the West Indies – we are so grateful to them for making the tour happen.
“As we get back to playing the game we love, we want to take the time to honour the brave key workers who went in to bat for their country under the toughest circumstances.
“It’s only fitting that we use this series as an opportunity to ‘raise a bat’ in their honour. We’ll wear their names with pride.”
The shirts will feature the names of people like Dr Vikas Kumar, a Specialist in Anaesthetics and Critical Care at Darlington Memorial Hospital, who has been working on the frontline throughout the pandemic while also taking care of a young family at home. In his spare time, Vikas is a keen cricketer playing at Cowgate Cricket Club in Newcastle and the Gilli Boys Amateur Club in Darlington.
Emily Blakemore, a nurse who has been working in a hospital looking after Covid-19 patients, will also feature on a shirt. As well as providing vital support to those most in need, she is a dedicated player for Astwood Bank Cricket Club where she also volunteers in the junior section.
“It’s going to be an absolute honour to see one of the England Men’s players come out while wearing my name on the back of their shirt,” said Blackmore.
“It has been such a difficult time for so many people, and there’s still a lot of hard work ahead, but it’s exciting that we’ll be able to see some cricket again.
“The cricket family has really pulled together at a tough time and I can’t wait until we can get playing at my club again.
“Until then, hopefully Joe Root and the team can give us something to cheer about. Summer isn’t summer without cricket.”
As part of the ECB’s nationwide ‘Together Through This Test’ campaign, which launched last month with a short film narrated by Stephen Fry, the #Raise The Bat initiative has already seen key workers adorn over 300 billboards across England and Wales.
The Together Through This Test auction, meanwhile, raised over £35,000 for charitable causes nationwide after being operated by Nottinghamshire Club Sponsor John Pye Auctions.