The official opening of the revamped iconic Bradford Park Avenue cricket ground has been hailed “a very special day for Yorkshire cricket and Bradford” thanks to the help of a team of offenders working on Community Payback.
Yorkshireman and England captain Joe Root was on-hand to cut the ribbon formally opening the first stage of the multi-million pound development, consisting of eight new artificial practice wickets and a community pavilion on the site.
The ambitious bid to restore the ground to its former glory is a partnership between the England and Wales Cricket Board (ECB), Yorkshire County Cricket Club (YCCC), and Bradford Council, with work mapped out in five stages up to 2019.
Mohammed Bashir (Bash), Community Payback placement coordinator with West Yorkshire Community Rehabilitation Company (CRC), said: “We were approached by Yorkshire County Cricket Club working in partnership with Bradford Council to help revamp the ground so that it could be restored to its former glory at the same time as bringing many communities together.”
Bash added: “We are very proud of the work carried out by services users on Community Payback to bring Bradford Park Avenue back in to play. The project was delivered to meet the demand to improve cricket facilities in Bradford and support the local community school’s sports and leisure initiative.”
“We are very proud of the work carried out by services users on Community Payback to bring Bradford Park Avenue back in to play”
Community Payback teams have been actively involved in the initial clearance work, before embarking upon the task of painting the main parameter wall that provided the backdrop for Joe Root’s official opening.
Neil Robson, lead supervisor for the project with West Yorkshire CRC, said: “Service user have been brilliant and have learned some important skills during their work which has involved general clearance work around the ground, preparing and painting the main perimeter wall, de-weeding terraces and seating area and cutting back overgrown vegetation.
“We estimate that service users have delivered more than 360 man-hours to deliver this project worth an estimated £3,000. Community Payback projects like this helps people on probation learn new skills to support their future employment prospects and can be seen to be making a positive contribution to society and the community in which they live as part of their rehabilitation.”
Mark Arthur, YCCC chief executive, said: “I’m absolutely delighted it’s come to fruition, this is a very special day for Yorkshire Cricket and Bradford. We are something within a mile of the city centre with a large British-Asian population who are mad for their cricket. That’s where the germ of the idea came from for having a first-class cricket ground for the community.”