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Page last updated at 08:04 GMT, Monday, 4 February 2008

English cricket gets 30m boost

Club cricket
The ECB plan has the unanimous backing of the first-class counties

English cricket chiefs have handed the sport a 30m cash injection in a bid to develop the club game and improve facilities around the country.

Among the plans Giles Clarke, chairman of the English and Wales Cricket Board, is keen to implement is the erection of floodlights at every county ground.

The move is designed to give fans more opportunities to see matches live.

Money will also be made available to improve coaching, ground drainage and access to the game in schools.

Funded primarily by increases in broadcasting revenue, sponsorship and gate receipts over recent years, it is the biggest cash injection ever into the English game.

"This is a major commitment to invest in all areas of cricket," said Clarke. "Cricket in England and Wales has never seen this level of financial support.


"Our resources are being targeted to build the continuing affection of the nation with its summer sport and to give people of all ages and walks of life the chance to play and watch in the best surroundings."

Of the total sum, 9m will be earmarked for floodlighting at all county grounds, 6m will go towards drainage at international venues and eventually all counties.

Clarke told BBC Radio 4 that more than 14m in grants will be given to more than 2,000 community clubs.

Explaining the desire for more floodlit cricket, he claimed England would enjoy more success on the international stage if their players were used to day-night matches.

"We feel we need considerably more experience playing day-night games," he said.

"Secondly, the spectators have considerably greater ease coming to watch cricket in the early and late evening. If we've got floodlights, we are in a position to do that."

Welcoming the plan, Essex chairman Nigel Hilliard said it provided a clear strategy for floodlit cricket.

"Essex invested in permanent floodlights at Chelmsford and we recognise the benefits. The fact that every first-class venue can aspire to model status with a financial reward from the ECB is to be commended," he said.

County champions Sussex also have permanent lights already, but chief executive Gus Mackay said they would now seek to upgrade them at Hove.

"This is all fantastic for the game, helps move it forward and shows cricket is in a pretty healthy state.

"It allows non-Test match grounds like ours to invest in facilities and so spectators can come in the future to an environment much improved," he commented.

see also
Hampshire to recover light costs
04 Feb 08 |  Hampshire
Cumbes happy with cash injection
04 Feb 08 |  Lancashire

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