Group of 33 aim to reach Lahore and back ahead of county season.

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England and Wales’ 33 first-class umpires have set themselves the challenge of walking the distance from Emirates Old Trafford in Manchester to the Gaddafi Stadium in Lahore and back ahead of the beginning of the domestic cricket season on 1 August – all in aid of three charities including the Professional Cricketers’ Trust.

The ‘First Class Walk’ spans 9,436 miles – about the distance the group would cumulatively walk on the field over the course of a regular cricket season – and will be covered by whatever means possible, whether on treadmills or by getting out and making the most of the British summertime weather.

As of 6 July, they have covered 5,985 miles, with Hassan Adnan leading the way on 350 miles. You can track their progress via dedicated Facebook, Twitter and Instagram pages.

They are supporting three charities in the process – the British Asian Trust, Prostate Cancer UK and the Professional Cricketers’ Trust, which faces an annual fundraising shortfall of over £250,000 due to the ongoing Covid-19 pandemic.

The players’ charity offers life-changing support and assistance to PCA members and their immediate families when they need it most. Support can range from emotional counselling to the provision of specialist medical equipment and beyond.

Paul Baldwin, one of the umpires leading the initiative, explains why the group decided to support the Trust: “The group wanted to support the Professional Cricketer’s Trust because most of us are former professional players.

“The Trust has helped out a number of us over the years, not just financially, but mentally too, and it seemed only right that we gave back to a body that has been so supportive of us.”

Director of the Professional Cricketers’ Trust Ian Thomas said: “Throughout what has been an incredibly difficult few months, it has been heartening to see members of the cricket community stepping up to support the Trust in whatever way they can.

“We are indebted to Paul and his group of first-class umpires for electing to support the players’ charity with their inventive fundraising challenge, and would urge cricket fans and the general public alike to get behind this fantastic initiative.”

The umpires are not alone in taking to the treadmill to support the Trust this month. Former Surrey keeper James Knott is attempting to walk during every minute of play in England’s first Test against the West Indies in aid of the players’ charity.