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Martin eyes universal classification structure

Ian Martin

“In England we have a system for all disability sports where athletes are assessed," said ECB national disability cricket manager Ian Martin

A structure to classify physical disability within cricket is the next requirement to take the game forward after the success of the Pakistan versus England series at the International Cricket Council Global Cricket Academy, according to ECB national disability cricket manager Ian Martin.

Last month’s series, the first between two national teams of physically disabled players where both line-ups were recognised and endorsed by the governing body of cricket in their country, drew praise from many people, including ICC chief executive Haroon Lorgat.

But in order to make international competition between countries fair and sustainable, Martin claims criteria has to be developed and agreed by all teams wishing to compete at the elite level.

“In England we have a system for all disability sports where athletes are assessed,” he said. “Before they can get access to playing at a representative level they have to go through that assessment and are then categorised according to their disability.

“It’s a means of ensuring a level playing field but at the moment we don’t have that internationally in cricket, and it is important for the future development of the game that we do.”

The Pakistan-England series went ahead despite the absence of those criteria and was a huge success.

Pakistan won both games of the Twenty20 series before securing a three-match one-day series 2-1.

“Pakistan’s view was that all their players were obviously disabled and we agreed it was more important to play the series than worry about issues of eligibility,” said Martin.

“We are glad we did because it was so successful in showcasing disability cricket on a big stage but for the international game it’s important we can all get together to agree on a classification structure.

“That will mean everyone knows where they stand and there can be no complaints about one team having an unfair advantage over another.”