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Founded in 1787, Marylebone Cricket Club is the most active and famous cricket club in the world and owner of Lord's Cricket Ground - the Home of Cricket.
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MCC has sent the Sierra Leone Cricket Association (SLCA) an early Christmas present this November by donating a full set of cricket nets and an artificial playing surface to the governing body.
It is planned that the equipment will initially be used in schools and later installed at a new national indoor cricket academy.
Sierra Leone has been an affiliate member of the ICC since 2002, and last season competed in Division 2 of the ICC World Cricket League Africa Region.
Some improvements have been made to the infrastructure of cricket across the nation in recent years; however, facilities and equipment remain rudimentary.
Many of the country’s cricket grounds were destroyed during the decade of civil war that ended in 2002, and there are currently only two cricket nets available for training, which are in a state of disrepair.
The delivery of the MCC nets and artificial turf wickets – worth over £100,000 when new, and still in decent condition – therefore represents a timely boost to development plans.
'Talent and desire'
The President of the Sierra Leone Cricket Association, spoke of his delight at receiving the new equipment.
“We have the talent and the desire but we don’t have the facilities. Hopefully this donation will be the beginning of something wonderful.
"We would like to thank MCC and all their Members for donating this equipment to us, it will really help us and we are very grateful.”
MCC has an ongoing relationship with the SLCA, having toured the West African nation several times in the past – most recently in 2003.
Speaking about the arrangement, MCC Head of Cricket, John Stephenson added: “I am absolutely delighted that MCC can continue to support the Sierra Leone Cricket Association, and I am certain that the nets and flooring will be put to excellent use.
"The foundations for development lie in what equipment and facilities are available, so I very much hope that this donation will make a difference.
“MCC is committed to increasing the international appeal of cricket and the Club’s relationship with Sierra Leone forms an important part of developing talent in emerging nations.”
Further links between the Club and Sierra Leone are now being established through MCC Member, Stuart Bentham, who is the company director of national team sponsors, Limeline Internet.
Bentham said:“This donation from the MCC will make a real difference to the Sierra Leone Cricket Association.
"Sierra Leone is, like Afghanistan, a country touched by war, the facilities need to be rebuilt and this donation offers a real chance to do that.
"It is incredibly generous of MCC to donate their nets and wickets."
“Tim Albone and I played a small part in the promotion of cricket in Afghanistan, and we have seen how the sport has had a positive impact there.
"I hope that cricket in Sierra Leone can have a similar impact, and I am proud that Limeline can support the SLCA.”
The nets and flooring are being recycled from the MCC Academy at Lord’s Cricket Ground, which is undergoing a full refurbishment this winter.
In addition to the new netting and playing surface, the lane lighting is being replaced with a more efficient system, and a deep clean of the internal and external walls will be performed.
Work inside the Academy got underway at the end of October and is expected to be completed before Christmas, with the official reopening due on the 5th January 2012.