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Stokes takes Masters back to his roots

England all-rounder Ben Stokes is taking the Professional Cricketers’ Association England Masters to help the club where his career began recover from the devastating floods of December 2015.

Cockermouth were among the many sports clubs in Cumbria whose grounds and facilities were damaged by Storm Desmond and were left with an £80,000 bill for repairs and clean-up costs.

Stokes joined Cockermouth at the age of 12 and played his formative cricket for the North Lancashire & Cumbria League Premier Division club before he was signed by Durham.

Although Stokes has since gone on to become one of the world’s leading all-rounders and has played 32 Tests, 53 One Day Internationals and 21 T20 Internationals, he has never forgot his cricketing roots.

With the help of his agent Neil Fairbrother, the former England and Lancashire batsman, Stokes has arranged a match between Cockermouth and a star-studded PCA England Masters side to the Raymond Denham Oval for a fundraising T20 match on August 10.

“Cockermouth were the club that gave me the opportunity to play cricket and do it on a regular basis and without that I wouldn’t be where I am today,” said Stokes.

“I’ve been thinking of doing something like this for a while but I wasn’t sure exactly what to do as I didn’t want to just give a donation and that’s the end of it.

“I spoke to my fiancée, Clare, about it and we discussed about a donation for a new scoreboard or a contribution for a new club house. That was a good idea and then I spoke to Neil Fairbrother and he mentioned the PCA England Masters.

“Neil started the whole process off and we discussed how much I wanted to give back to my club and then obviously making a day of it as I’m hoping will be a good turnout. The big thing for me is giving back to Cockermouth and Cumbria in general.

“I don’t think it will just be the town of Cockermouth, I’m hoping the people of Workington, Whitehaven, Penrith and surrounding areas will attend and support the day.”

Stokes will not play in the match but he will be guest of honour and will take part in a question-and-answer session with other PCA England Masters players.

Sponsored by Greene King, the PCA England Masters have been touring the country since 2002 playing matches against local clubs and schools. PCA England Masters matches provide unique opportunities to engage with local communities, create sponsorship openings from local businesses, allow spectators to watch England stars of the recent past in action.

Each PCA England Masters match includes a fundraising lunch, Q&A session, coaching and a memorabilia signings as well as a fixture against local opposition.

The PCA are celebrating their 50th Anniversary this year and Stokes was also keen to support their Legacy Year Appeal.

To celebrate their golden jubilee, the PCA have embarked on a major fundraising initiative, with an aim to raise £250,000 for the PCA Benevolent Fund to ensure the association can keep delivering key services to all members which is something the all-rounder clearly values.

“The PCA England Masters is a great thing. The team still have that competitive side and the personality when they play, without club cricket who knows where these ex-professionals would be? They travel around the country and get involved with the grass roots to where careers start,” he said.

“To be honest the PCA as an organisation are brilliant in what they do for current and past players so to also help them in their 50th year is a big thing for me.”

The visit of the PCA England Masters to Cockermouth promises to be a memorable occasion for all spectators, whether junior, senior or corporate supporters.

Further information on all ticketing and corporate packages will be announced in due course and sales will begin on June 1 at 9am.

For more information on Cockermouth CC visit their website and to find out more about hosting the PCA England Masters click here.