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Blind cricketers head for Cup

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England’s squad to take part in the 2006 Blind Cricket World Cup travel to Pakistan aiming to improve on their semi-final appearance in India four years ago.

The competition in Islamabad runs from December 4 to 16 with eight countries competing initially in a round-robin format leading to the semi-finals and final.

England’s 17-man squad face a gruelling schedule with seven games in eight days to qualify for the semi-finals.

Andy Dalby-Welsh, who captains the Sussex Shark's visually impaired cricket team, is in the squad again after competing in 2002.

The 28-year-old, who lost his sight eight years ago, said: “It's fantastic to be involved in high level competitive sport again.

"When my eyesight deteriorated I thought my sporting days were over. When Sussex County Cricket Club set up a team for the visually impaired I signed up and not long after had been selected for the England blind cricket team.”

The squad includes uncapped Mark Turnham from Warwickshire and sees the returns of star players Tim Guttridge and Adam Benjamin who haven't played internationally since the final match of the 2004 Ashes series.

Heindrich Swanepoel will captain the side for the first time in a world cup after playing in the previous two tournaments.

Cricket for the visually impaired is played using a ball with noise-makers in the side. Teams consist of four players who are totally blind and seven players who have on a spectrum of vision impairment.

Full England squad: Heindrich Swanapoel (captain), Tim Guttridge, David Townley, Hassan Khan, Matt Dean, Rory Field, Bryn Reynolds, Adam Benjamin (all Metro), Nathan Foy, Mark Turnham, Mark Pickup, Andy Powers, Luke Sugg (all Warwickshire), Miles Northwood, Andy Dalby-Welsh, Dan Field (all Sussex) and Sam Murray (Worcestershire).