The #RaiseTheBat initative
The #RaiseTheBat initative Image Credit: Twitter

The England Test series against the West Indies will be named the #RaiseTheBat Test Series in honour of coronavirus key workers, the England and Wales Cricket Board (ECB) has announced.

The three-Test series taking place behind closed doors will honour and celebrate heroes within the cricket family, many of whom have been supporting those in need during the COVID-19 pandemic.

On day one of the first Test on 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.

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 told across the ECB’s digital platforms.

The shirts will feature the names of people such as Vikas Kumar, a anaesthetics and critical care specialist 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, will also feature on a shirt. She has been working in a hospital looking after COVID-19 patients. 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, inspiring the next generation of cricketers. Those who know her say she’s a huge role model to all, always staying positive despite working in very tough circumstances.

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 to come.