ADAM Landry has been elevated to first-team captain at newly-promoted Widnes Cricket Club.

And an immediate boost for the new skipper - and indeed the rest of the club - is confirmation of a £37,700 ground improvement grant.

This will provide the bulk of the funding for a new £40,000-plus practice facility at Beaconsfield Road.

Aussie batsman and occasional leg-spin bowler Landry succeeds Andrew Woods, who was forced to step down from the captaincy due to a persistent elbow injury which hasn't responded to surgery.

Landry takes charge of a side strengthened by the return of prolific slow bowler Ibra Ali.

He is back after a season at hometown club Todmorden for the step up to the Murray Smith ECB Cheshire County League's Premier Division, following last summer's achievement in finishing runnersup to Division One champions Poynton.

Meanwhile, the award of the Government bursary is the culmination of seven months of hard work for the club, who are also members of the Pacific Brands Merseyside Youth League.

The money has been awarded by the Treasury in partnership with the Department of Culture, Media and Sport, Sport England and the England and Wales Cricket Board (ECB).

The Community Club Development Fund (CCDF) Grant sees the club itself investing £2,500 in the project.

Widnes' head of coaching, Peter Hewitt, said: 'The scheme is aimed at club sport, which is recognised as being the heart of our game.

'The awards panel were particularly impressed at the way the club is run and encompasses a true community spirit via contacts with schools, parents, the local unitary authority of Halton, county boards plus local voluntary and senior citizens organisations.

'It is a much-needed cricket facility which will benefit the club and our community cricketing partners.

'Our practice facilities, particularly when you're trying to en-courage youngsters and parents, were looking very tired and worn.

'Quite frankly, they did not meet ECB and child-welfare standards which, to a club of our stature, almost in its 140th year, was not acceptable.'

He added: 'To be accepted to apply for the award itself was a major coup in September 2003, but to actually be awarded the grant is a dream come true.'

By the end of next month, the club hopes to hear from the ECB a start date for the work, which is expected to take 12 months. Widnes will launch its junior season with an enrolment night on Monday, April 26 (5.15pm).

U13s are asked to also report to the ground, preferably with an adult, on Monday as their season starts on Sunday, May 2 at 10am.

All juniors, from U8s to U18s, will now only have to pay an annual membership of £7, due by May 1.

For any further details, contact Peter Hewitt via the club, tel (0151) 424 4008.