LUDLOW Cricket Club are buzzing ahead of the summer restart – after unveiling fantastic new £50,000 triple-lane nets and bringing in a former England test star in a coaching role.

Work on the nets was completed last week in time for the Burway club to begin using them on Monday – the day the relaxation of coronavirus restrictions allowed grassroots sport to resume.

Former Yorkshire, Gloucestershire, Sussex and England batsman Bill Athey was on hand for the ‘christening’ session and will be coaching seniors and juniors at the club each Wednesday.

Ludlow chairman Phil Parker said: “Having Bill here raises the profile of the club and what we are looking to try to achieve and deliver for people of all ages. Bill is very enthusiastic about it.

“It’s great for Ludlow to have somebody of that experience and I’m sure that will start to show through all of our age groups.”

Ludlow raised around £25,000 for the nets – with Connexus Housing Association’s £3,000 grant among the contributions – and that was match-funded by the Shropshire Cricket Board and ECB.

Parker added: “The old nets were a bit past their sell-by-date – they had been there for 40 years and they almost out-date me!

“They weren’t really fit for ECB standards so we spoke to the Shropshire Cricket Board and the ECB in terms of grant aid and they have half-funded the project.

“I understand we’re the only club in the country to have got this sort of grant aid at this time so we’ve been very, very lucky and we’re very grateful to everyone who has helped.

“The facilities will certainly be the envy of quite a few other clubs – even some of the bigger Shropshire clubs in the Birmingham League probably haven’t got as good a facility as this.”

Ludlow hope the nets will boost participation in the women’s and disabled games, as well as aiding the junior section.

First XI skipper Louis Watkins added: “It’s massively important for the club – not only for the adults but the juniors as well. It really shows that we are trying to invest in the young kids.”

Watkins is also excited about working under Athey, 63, who lives locally and first got involved with the club last year.

The captain added: “It was always planned that last year Bill would be our coach but because of Covid-19 the season started late.

“So we used him a little bit last year but this year he is fully with us which is brilliant.

“There’s not many England test cricketers knocking about coaching at local club level and he’s great to work with. With these new facilities as well, we will be able to really get stuck in.”

For details of training sessions at Ludlow CC, visit their Facebook page.