England to wear key workers' names on shirts during #raisethebat Test series against West Indies

June 20, 2020

England will honour key workers who have helped during the coronavirus pandemic by wearing their names on their training shirts during the #raisethebat Test series against West Indies in July.

The England and Wales Cricket Board has announced that the three-game series - being held behind closed doors at The Ageas Bowl and Emirates Old Trafford due to the coronavirus pandemic - will be named #raisethebat as a tribute to those cricketing heroes on the frontline.

That will include Joe Root's side wearing the names of key workers on their training tops ahead of day one of the first Test at The Ageas Bowl on July 8.

The people named on the shirts have all been nominated by their local cricket clubs and include teachers, doctors, nurses, carers, and social workers, with their stories amplified across the ECB's digital platforms.

Those who will be named on England's shirts include Dr Vikas Kumar, a specialist in Anaesthetics and Critical Care at Darlington Memorial Hospital, who has been working on the frontline while also taking care of a young family at home. In his spare time, Vikas is a keen cricketer and plays at Cowgate Cricket Club in Newcastle and the Gilli Boys Amateur Club.

Emily Blakemore, a nurse who has been working in a hospital looking after COVID-19 patients, will also feature on a shirt. She is a dedicated player for Astwood Bank Cricket Club where she also volunteers in the junior section, inspiring the next generation of cricketers.

Emily said: "It's going to be an absolute honour to see one of the England Men's players come out 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 part of the ECB's '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 over 300 billboards across England and Wales, with more billboards to come from June 29.

People are also being encouraged to highlight the many more key workers who deserve recognition using #raisethebat on social media.

England Men's Test captain 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 that we use this series as an opportunity to 'raise a bat' in their honour. We'll wear their names with pride."

ECB chief executive officer Tom Harrison added: "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.

"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."

Watch England's three-Test series at home to West Indies live in full on Sky Sports from July 8.

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