Life's a beach - Comber
Playing for England Visually Impaired in the inaugural VI World Twenty20 has been one of the highlights of Rob Comber‘s life.
Comber broke into the team only this year and was selected for the tournament in Bangalore where England put together a brilliant run of wins to reach the last four.
Having suffered three defeats and a wash-out in their first four round-robin games, England won their next four to earn a semi-final with Pakistan.
Although a nine-wicket loss followed to a side with only full-time professional players, Comber is taking pride in England’s achievement.
“For me, it doesn’t really get any better than this. It’s a disappointment we’re not playing in the final but we reached the semi-finals and we’re somewhat proud of what we’ve done,” he told BBC Radio’s Test Match Special.
“We’ve had a lot of support from the ECB. They’ve asked the right questions of us and we’ve given it a good go to get as far as we have done in this tournament.”
The 29-year-old Sussex Sharks player encouraged other visually impaired people to play the game.
“I didn’t start losing my sight until I was 21 and before that I was playing mainstream cricket,” he said during yesterday’s final in which India, watched by 3,000 fans, beat rivals Pakistan by 29 runs.
“The transition for me from the red-ball game to the game we play has been fairly simple, but for guys who have never played cricket before it’s very, very simple.
“We’ve got about 12 teams set up in the country and I know a lot of the cricket boards are doing lots of work to promote blind cricket throughout the country.”
ECB’s head of disability cricket Ian Martin shares Comber’s attitude about the World Twenty20 and the visually impaired game.
“It’s been a really good tournament to be part of and it’s great to get blind cricket and disability cricket in general what this tournament has given it,” Martin said.
“It’s pretty difficult to comprehend if you’re sighted, how someone with a visual impairment can strike a ball, field a ball and bowl a ball as well as these guys do.
“Coming back to the profile that this tournament has given these really talented cricketers, it’s really fantastic that they’re getting the level of profile that the game has got as a result of this World Cup.”
Martin, who set England the target of reaching the last four, added: “It’s absolutely brilliant to be part of, a fantastic atmosphere.
“It’s crazy, absolutely crazy. There’s more people here than you’d seen at an average county game back home. The atmosphere is absolutely bouncing.
“We’ve got the music going on, we’ve got drums, there’s all sorts of food outlets. It’s just phenomenal, absolutely fantastic. Also you’ve got some incredibly talented visually impaired cricketers.”