ASTWOOD BANK Women cricket ace Emily Blakemore will feature on a special shirt when the England men’s Test team take on West Indies later this summer.
The Three Lions will be honouring heroic cricketing key workers in what has this week been named the #raisethebat Test Series by the England and Wales Cricket Board (ECB).
Marking the return of international cricket, the three-Test series taking place behind closed doors will honour and celebrate heroes within the cricket family, many of whom have been playing the innings of their lives to support those in need during the COVID-19 pandemic.
On day one of the first Test (Wednesday, July 8), the England 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 to shine a light on their bravery and sacrifice as fans watch live from home.
The people named on the shirts have all been nominated by their local cricket clubs and include teachers, doctors, nurses, carers, social workers and other vital professions. Their stories will be amplified across the ECB’s digital platforms.
Among those is Emily – a nurse at the Alexandra Hospital – and she is thrilled at the prospect.
She said: “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.
“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 well as providing vital support to those most in need, Emily is a dedicated player for Astwood Bank Cricket Club where she also volunteers in the junior section to inspire the next generation of cricketers.
Those who know her say she is a huge role model to all – always staying positive despite working in very tough circumstances.
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, Dr Kumar is a keen cricketer at Cowgate Cricket Club in Newcastle and the Gilli Boys Amateur Club in Darlington.
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 #raisethebat initiative has already featured key workers on more than 300 billboards across England and Wales, with more billboards to come from Monday.
The cricket family is also being encouraged to highlight the many more key workers who deserve recognition by using #raisethebat on social media.
England Test captain Joe Root said: “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 into bat for their country under the toughest circumstances.
“It’s only fitting we use this series as an opportunity to ‘raise a bat’ in their honour. We’ll wear their names with pride.”
To view a specially-produced video highlighting the #raisethebat initiative, visit https://www.facebook.com/WorcsAcuteNHS/videos/3067676406657224.