Gatting and Compton swap bats for brushes to help Happisburgh Cricket Club get in shape for season

Pictured are Nick Compton, Rob Breeze, chairman of Happisburgh Cricket Club, and Mike Gatting. Pictu

Pictured are Nick Compton, Rob Breeze, chairman of Happisburgh Cricket Club, and Mike Gatting. Picture: MARK BULLIMORE

Aah sunshine, an English village cricket pitch, two international players, and the gentle smack of bristle on plank.

Pictured are Nick Compton, Rob Breeze, chairman of Happisburgh Cricket Club, and Mike Gatting. Pictu

Pictured are Nick Compton, Rob Breeze, chairman of Happisburgh Cricket Club, and Mike Gatting. Picture: MARK BULLIMORE

Former England cricket captain Mike Gatting and current England test player Nick Compton - grandson of legendary test cricketer Denis Compton - put down their bats and picked up paintbrushes and other DIY tools at the weekend to help Happisburgh Cricket Club get its ground in shape for the coming season.

The sporting pair joined nearly 100 other volunteers for a day at the coastal village as part of the England and Wales Cricket Board's (ECB) annual NatWest CricketForce project which saw 2,166 clubs join with their communities from April 1-3 to improve their facilities.

Happisburgh was chosen this year as one of three clubs nationally for special attention, including the VIP helpers.

Clubs are encouraged to approach local businesses for support and Happisburgh benefited from around £10,000 in donations of money or goods, according to club treasurer and CricketForce organiser Wayne Catchpole.

Messrs Gatting and Compton helped completely redecorate the clubhouse, moved in the 1970s from the Norfolk Showground, erect fencing, and dig and plant a flower border beside a newly-created patio.

New toilets, kitchen fittings, and other furniture would be installed in time for the start of the season next month, said Mr Catchpole.

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Mr Gatting said he was 'very impressed' at the turnout.

'I think it's fantastic,' he added. 'I've come along to help them make their facilities among the best in the area. We want to show young children that they can come to this club and find friends, rather than hang about on the streets in gangs. It's a social centre, and a huge part of the community.'

Speaking the day before England's defeat by the West Indies in the ICC World Twenty20 final, Mr Gatting predicted an England win. 'We've peaked at the right time,' he said.

Mr Catchpole praised the cricket stars for 'getting stuck in' and helping Happisburgh, which has about 50 players, two Saturday league sides, a Sunday league side and an over-40s' team.

'A lot of our players have young families and, before, the clubhouse was a bit tired and run down,' he said.

'Now it's a place where families will want to spend time and socialise. Hopefully people in the village will also drop in for a drink and to watch a bit of cricket.'

The cricket club shares the ground with Happisburgh's adult and youth football teams.

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