Cricketers can’t smash the ball across the field during the coronavirus lockdown – so instead they’re smashing the ‘tache’.
The cricket season, which should have started on Saturday, has been postponed for the foreseeable future while the nation is under lockdown.
But cricketers have responded to the crisis by trying to raise as much money as possible for NHS Charities Together – by attempting to grow and fashion facial hair in the style of their favourite cricketing heroes.
In just three days, the Cricketers against Covid-10 #SmashtheTache fund-raising campaign raised more than £3,000. Players, spectators and officials have been donating the money they would normally spend on cricket, and then starting to grow beards and moustaches which would make the likes of WG Grace, Merv Hughes and Ian Botham proud.
Cricketers then posted photographs of themselves, dressed in their cricket whites, on what would have been the first day of the new season.
Organiser Craig Barker plays for Porthill Park Cricket Club. The 35-year-old, from Baldwins Gate, said: “It began as a joke between friends, but has grown significantly thanks to the cricket community.
“David Fairbanks challenged myself and Daniel Lyth to not shave throughout lockdown and we duly accepted the challenge. We wanted to see who would look the worst at the end of the lockdown.
“But with our newly grown facial hair, we wondered if we could raise some money for all the heroes working on the front-line to keep us safe. So we contacted a number of cricketing friends who all accepted the challenge.
“Cricketers from all clubs in North Staffordshire and South Cheshire cricket are involved and, thanks to friends in other leagues, there are now cricketers in other leagues in England who are spreading the good work.
“It is more than simply players. The whole cricketing community has got involved, including spectators and tea ladies. We can’t thank the cricketing community enough for their donations, likes, shares and positive comments.
“Finally, we have nurses from ward 222 NIVCC [non-invasive ventilation critical care] at Royal Stoke who have become involved and we thank all of the nurses for spreading the word.
“Most importantly, we want to thank every single one of the NHS and key workers for the incredible work they are doing to keep us all safe.”
David Fairbanks, who lives in Audley, is Porthill Park CC’s first team coach. He said: “The response we’ve had is absolutely unbelievable. The lads have then gone back to their respective clubs, and told them what we are doing.
“We’ve tried to include not just players, but all volunteers to play their part – and we asked everyone, on the eve or morning of their first game, to groom a tache of their favourite ever cricketer.”
Among those taking up the challenge is David Edwards, who plays for Meakins CC in Hanley. The 39-year-old, from Wetley Rocks, said: “I’m trying to grow one in the style of Merv Hughes.
“Everyone has jumped on board and we all have friends at different cricket clubs, so it spread quickly.”
Sam Kelsall is captain of Moddershall and Oulton CC. The 27-year-old, from Stone, said: “It shows how tight the cricketing community is. We normally come and hammer each other when we’re playing, but we are all friends off the field.”
Ryan Hassett, who plays for Porthill Park CC, described it as a ‘brilliant idea for a very good cause’. The 28-year-old, from Wolstanton, added: “Cricketers are having a joke and a laugh, and raising a lot of money for the NHS.”
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