Warwickshire County Cricket Club has joined the campaign to celebrate over 200 cricket initiatives across the game in support of the nation during COVID-19.

The Bears have been playing a big part in the cricket family’s response to COVID-19, which has launched more than 200 initiatives at all levels of the game. Locally we have seen staff taking part in the 2.6 Challenge, men’s and women’s team players making telephone calls to elderly Members, and Edgbaston’s use an NHS test centre and a community food storage and distribution hub.

Warwickshire CCC is proud to jointly launch ‘Together Through This Test’, a nationwide campaign to shine a light on how the cricket family has reached out to local communities during COVID-19.

The campaign will highlight some of the unsung heroes from across the professional and recreational game as well as providing updates on, as well as 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.

Other initiatives that the Bears have led on include fundraising for Queen Elizabeth Hospital Birmingham Charity and the NSPCC’s Childline service in Birmingham through the sale the sale of NHS-inspired Bear & Ragged Staff Charity T-Shirts, designed by Jim Troughton, and the launch of a new children’s book, also illustrated by Troughton. The Club has also been recognising the great efforts from NHS staff through its NHS Heroes campaign, has provided free colouring and activity books for young children and has been staging weekly Zoom calls for Members with Bears players past and present.

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 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, including the Thrive Together Birmingham Partnership at Edgbaston
  • Supporting the isolated and vulnerable with #MakeThatCall where Bears players, coaches, staff and former players have contributed been ringing nearly 300 older members and stewards
  • Cricket Clubs and venues being used for COVID-19 testing and blood donations, including Edgbaston
  • Three England Women’s players offered their services to the NHS – Heather Knight, Tammy Beaumont and Sophia Dunkley
  • Our 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 Warwickshire staff completing the 2.6 Challenge, the sale of the NHS inspired Bear & Ragged Staff Charity T-Shirts, and The Legend of Morvidus Continues book.
  • Launching three financial schemes to provide immediate support for our national network of cricket clubs and leagues

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 & 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 (22 May) at 15:00 running until Friday 29th May at 15:00. With the Bears contributing some marquee lots for the initiative, which includes 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 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, 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.”