The four key worker heroes from Kent that were honoured with their names displayed on the training shirts of the England Men’s Test team during the #raisethebat Test have expressed their surprise and gratitude at being recognised by the ECB.
The Test series, the first to take place behind closed doors during the COVID-19 pandemic, celebrated the heroes who have been going above and beyond to help others during this crisis.
The people named on the shirts were all nominated by their local cricket clubs and included teachers, doctors, nurses, carers and other vital professions.
Each key worker will receive the shirt bearing their name, signed by the player who wore it, to thank them for the work they’ve been doing.
Surgeon Dr. Jamasp K. Dastur, who plays for New Ifield CC in Gravesend, was honoured on Jos Buttler’s warm-up shirt. On being nominated, he said: “Never in my wildest dreams would I have thought this could ever happen.
“I was genuinely touched by the nomination that Nick Bodle and the committee at New Ifield Cricket Club (NICC) sent to the ECB.
“My journey at New Ifield began in 2010 and they have seen me grow through every stage of my surgical training and specialisation. Playing Cricket at the weekends with this team has always been and will always be one of the most special experiences ever. They are truly a family – a band of brothers with the sport we all love binding us together.
“By showing such appreciation, the ECB has made all of us feel proud and special for being associated with this beautiful game at its very grassroots.
“The past few months have been a test for us all, but we have all come together as one and kept our Health Service going and kept our Clubs going through a difficult patch. I am deeply honoured and quite humbled at the recognition given to me by the ECB.
“I would also like to thank Jos Butler for sporting my name on his training top – along with my late father’s name who sadly left us last May and who loved cricket just as much as I do. My love for cricket comes from him and he would often come up to NICC to watch us play our games and I am sure he will continue to watch us from above.”
Police officer and Reculver CC member Richard Freeman, whose name was on Dan Lawrence’s training top, said: “To be recognised as a local key worker by the ECB was a real honour.
“I felt very lucky to be one of the 25 people selected and certainly didn’t expect it! It was exciting to watch the first Test Match and was made even more exciting when I spotted my name on the screens!
“Working as a Police Officer can be incredibly challenging and none more so than during this period of lockdown. It has been difficult trying to juggle shift work with childcare and home schooling. I have tried to remain as positive as I can by playing lots of cricket with my two boys when able to and looking forward to the game returning.”
A&E sister and Town Malling CC women’s captain Anna Tunnicliff, whose name was on Joe Denly’s shirt, said: “I was honoured to represent key workers and to be recognised for the work that they do in grassroots cricket and at work.
“A huge thanks to the ECB and Kent Cricket and the public for their support through this time.
“Being interviewed on Test Match Special was more nerve wrecking than anything I’ve ever faced working in A& E. Huge thanks to Joe Denly and for the video message.”
Debi Armstrong, a specialist nurse and Town Malling CC girls coach, was on Zak Crawley’s warm-up shirt. “It was an amazing honour to be recognised as a key worker working in grass roots cricket both as a coach and a player.
“It has been a stressful time both as a front line worker and for our families at home who have been worried about us every day we have walked out of the door to go to work.
“For my family and especially my Mum (who I haven’t seen for 6 months as she is in Derbyshire shielding) it has been extra special for her to see her daughter’s name on the back of an England player when she has been watching and for my husband and teenage boys it is the stuff of dreams.
“My Mum has been ever so slightly giddy about it and as well as an NHS rainbow in her window she has a little photo of the Zak raise the bat campaign poster beside it.”