United under a banner of blue
Players, fans, broadcasters and sponsors came together again yesterday (22 August) for Cricket United Day to help improve lives through cricket.
Under bright blue skies, the day began with the Cricket United flag flying on top of the Pavilion of the Kia Oval, marking the start of cricket’s biggest national charity day.
It was a day of ‘firsts’. Blue stumps and bails were used for the first time in an England home Test match, thanks to support from Investec and Gray Nicolls. The Australian and England teams both descended the Pavilion steps together at the start of the day to go through a Cricket United guard of honour; and then handed specially made blue caps and baggies to charity beneficiaries, Arpit Patel (Lord’s Taverners), Shakeel Ahmed (Chance to Shine) and Jamie Hood (PCA Benevolent Fund). And sporting commentators donned tailored bright blue suits, courtesy of McCann Bespoke, for the first time - as well as their blue TM Lewin ties - to show their support for Cricket United.
It was a day the cricket family once again came together. The England and Australian teams led the way with a range of activity to raise funds and awareness for the charitable appeal. The unique blue signed caps and baggies are available to buy on ebay - click here to make a bid - and soon you'll also be able to bid on the signed Test shirts bearing the Cricket United logo that were worn by both sets of players on Cricket United Day.
The England team once again put pen to paper and drew portraits of the 2005 England team, who returned the favour. Doodles include Freddie Flintoff depicting Joe Root as a baby wearing a nappy bearing the Three Lions badge which raised a staggering £8,000 in the eBay auction.
The Aussies also supported the fundraising efforts with touring fans raising £500 during an eve of Test dinner.
The players were not the only ones showing their support for Cricket United on the pitch yesterday. Umpires Dar and Dharmasena backed the cause by wearing a blue ribbon around their hats.
A ring of blue also ran around the ground, thanks both to the many fans who came dressed in the Cricket United’s signature colour and also to the vast majority of sponsors who changed their perimeter board branding to blue. Waitrose even changed from green to blue on the England players’ shirts and donated £100 for every boundary scored on the day. In the stands, fans waved their blue Investec 4 and 6 cards and the Barmy Army’s Billy the Trumpet blasted out blue-themed tunes.
Cricket United ambassadors Michael Vaughan, Mark Butcher, Matthew Hoggard, Adam Hollioake, Davina McCall and Lucy Verasamy entertained fans and sponsors around the ground, while an army of valiant Cricket United volunteers rattled buckets and sold raffle-tickets, specially commissioned light blue England caps and T-shirts provided by Waitrose.
Away from the Kia Oval, a number of cricket clubs in the Surrey Ryman League took part in a pilot ‘Blue Bails Day’. Club houses mirrored activities at the Kia Oval, with their own blue bails, umpires with blue ribbons on their hats and fundraising activities. Leatherhead Cricket Club even had a special visit from ex Surrey-cricketer Ali Brown after they won a Blue Bails Day prize draw. A former Surrey star will be visiting their colts soon too.
Cricket United Day is getting bigger and bluer every year. Beneficiary Shakeel Ahmed summed up the day, describing his on-pitch experience as “a dream come true!”
Cricket United Day is a dream come true for us as well and we would like to thank everyone who has helped to make it such a success in 2015. Special thanks goes to England and Wales Cricket Board and Surrey Cricket Club who helped turn our dream into a reality. Thank you!
Help us improve lives through cricket by texting 'CRICKET’ to 70123 to donate £5.