KEY worker heroes from the region were honoured today by having their names displayed on the training shirts of the England Men’s Test team ahead of the start of the first #raisethebat Test against the West Indies.

Durham’s Ben Stokes who is captaining England in the first Test while Joe Root is away for the birth of his second child, took to the pitch wearing the name of Dr Vikas Kumar, a specialist in anaesthetics and critical care at Darlington Memorial Hospital.

England pace bowler Mark Wood honoured Teesdale ambulance volunteer Susan Bainbridge.

The Northern Echo: Ben Stokes sports the name of key worker Dr Vikas KumarBen Stokes sports the name of key worker Dr Vikas Kumar

The three-Test series, taking place behind closed doors, at the Ageas Bowl, Southampton, celebrates the heroes who have been going above and beyond to help others during the Covid-19 pandemic.

The people named on the shirts were all nominated by their local cricket clubs and include teachers, doctors, nurses, carers and other vital professions.

Each key worker will get the shirt bearing their name, signed by the player who wore it, to thank them for the work they have been doing.

Their names and photos will also be highlighted in broadcast partners’ Sky and BBC’s coverage and displayed across the ground on the big screens and LED banners.

Through the pandemic Dr Kumar, a keen cricketer who plays at Cowgate Cricket Club in Newcastle and the Gilli Boys Amateur Club in Darlington, has been working on the frontline while also being there for his family at home.

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Ben Stokes said: “We’re only able to play this Test match because of the amazing job that key workers up and down the country have done to help us through this pandemic.

“Wearing their names is a real honour for us, and is a small sign of our appreciation for the incredible work they have done. They have truly gone in to bat for us all, and it makes me proud of how the whole cricket family has responded to help us get through these unprecedented times.”

Dr Kumar said: “The past four months have been very difficult, but it was a wonderful surprise to find out that Ben Stokes of all people is wearing my name on his training shirt.

“So many of my colleagues at work and at the cricket club have been working so hard and made big sacrifices, so this is for them as well.”

Susan is a volunteer at the North East Ambulance Service but in her spare time runs Zumba classes for older people throughout Teesdale. During the pandemic, the Middleton-in-Teesdale cricketer has taken her exercise classes online through Zoom to ensure the community can keep active.

She said: “It is nice to be honoured this way, because when you do volunteer work, you just do it and get on with it. It’s nice to get a thank you.”

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