England 2005 Ashes hero Matthew Hoggard is swapping his whites for a wetsuit to raise money for cricket development and HIV/AIDS charity Cricket Without Boundaries (CWB).
A decade after helping sink Australia to regain the urn, “Hoggy” – who took 248 Test wickets - is taking the plunge at four open water swimming events starting with the Great North Swim at Lake Windermere (June 12-14).
The former Yorkshire and Leicestershire fast bowler will also compete in the Great East Swim in Suffolk on June 20, the Great Manchester Swim at Salford Quays on July 4 and the Great Scottish Swim on August 29.
All money raised will go to supporting CWB’s work, using cricket as a tool for social development in Africa.
And Matthew is urging others to follow his lead and make a splash for CWB.
He said: “I am delighted to be taking part in the Great Swim Series to help Cricket Without Boundaries continue to grow the game in Africa and use it as a vehicle to deliver vital health messages.
“Cricket has given me so much over the years and it is great to be able to give something back. I would urge all cricket fans to support CWB - either by joining me on the swims and raising money themselves or by sponsoring me.”
To sponsor Matthew please visit www.virginmoneygiving.com/MatthewHoggard
And the former fast bowler, who begins training for the swims this week, said the challenge of completing the four swims – which range from half a mile to 5km - is on a par with some of most daunting moments of his 67 Test career.
He said:“I had plenty of number of nerve-wracking moments in my career, from making my Test debut against the West Indies at Lord’s in 2000 to facing the Aussies in the 2005 Ashes but, not being a swimmer, the thought of lining up with thousands of other people for the Great Swim Series is right up there.”
Like the famous Ashes series win that Hoggard starred in, Cricket Without Boundaries also celebrates its 10th anniversary this year. The UK-based, volunteer-run charity was founded by three friends; Andy Hobbs, Chris Kangis and Ed Williams who gave up their jobs to spend six months travelling from Cairo to Cape Town coaching cricket along the way.
Ten years on and CWB has delivered more than 50 projects in nine countries, coached over 130,000 children and trained 3,000 plus coaches.
As well as using cricket to raise HIV/AIDS awareness, CWB has also used it to rehabilitate child soldiers in northern Uganda, rebuild communities in post-genocide Rwanda and worked with Maasai warriors to empower women against FGM (Female Genital Mutilation) in Kenya.
The charity currently visits five Africa countries on two, two week projects each year. It also employs ambassadors – local coaches – in their project countries to continue their work between trips.
Co-founder and trustee and Chris Kangis said: “We are delighted to have Matthew Hoggard on board for the Great Swims. CWB kicked off our first project at the end of the legendary 2005 Ashes series so it is great to have one of the stars of that series taking part in the Great Swims for CWB as part of our 10th Anniversary. This is a fantastic opportunity for existing volunteers to celebrate the last 10 years and for new people to get involved with CWB and help make our 10th Anniversary year a real success.”
For more information on Cricket Without Boundaries please visit www.cricketwithoutboundaries.com
For details of how to get involved with the Great Swim Series go to http://www.greatrun.org/great-swim