Denning and Valjee scoop awards
England Deaf team coach Bobby Denning and captain Umesh Valjee were both celebrating after being honoured at the Deaf Sports Personality of the Year Dinner.
Denning, who has been involved in disabled cricket for more than a decade, scooped the Coach of the Year gong while the prolific Valjee won the Deaf Sports Personality of the Year award.
Mike Gatting, ECB Managing Director of Cricket Partnerships, was at the glittering ceremony and presented Denning with his award.
“We have seen fantastic performances in disability sport over the last 12 months and I was delighted to see Bobby Denning and Umesh Valjee recognised at the 2012 Deaf Sports Personality of the Year awards," he said.
Denning's work with disabled cricketers is wide-ranging and includes spells as head coach of England's Learning Disability side and as stand-in coach of the England's Blind team.
But it is with the England Deaf team that he is chiefly associated. Appointed as head coach in 2009, Denning oversaw the very successful tour of Australia in 2011, when England won five and lost one of their seven games, drawing the single Test.
Despite this record of success, the Poulton-le-Fylde based coach insisted that he was "surprised and embarrassed" to win his award, even though he knew of the nomination.
"The idea is that I'm there to improve the team and it's for the players to take any of the glory," he said.
"Nonetheless, I do appreciate the award because it shows that the deaf community recognise the work I do with hearing-impaired players.”
In barely a week, Denning will be on his travels again, this time to India as assistant coach of the England Visually Impaired team as they seek to win the first T20 World Cup.
"What you get with Bobby is that he coaches the player not the sport," said Ian Martin, the ECB's National Disabilities Manager.
"He strives to help cricketers become as good at the game as they can be and nothing's too much trouble for him, even to the extent of giving up his evenings and weekends to work with players.
"What is remarkable is that he does all this in addition to his work for the Lancashire Cricket Board and the Spanish national team, which he also coaches."
For Valjee, his award caps a wonderful 18 months which began midway through 2011 when he was England Disability Cricketer of the Year - due reward for his heavy run-scoring on the aforementioned tour of Australia.
In January this year, Valjee was at Buckingham Palace to pick up an MBE from The Queen in recognition to his services to deaf cricket.