ECB today announced a major boost for disability cricket with the opening of four new regional talent development centres and a series of coaching appointments to support its national disability squads.
Funded by Sport England, the four centres will provide coaching for cricketers with all types of disabilities who have been identified as having the potential to play at international level.
Two of the centres will be based within Lancashire CCC and Northamptonshire CCC’s Academies with a third centre to be based at Whitgift School in Surrey. A south-west venue for the fourth centre will be confirmed shortly and is expected to open before the end of the year.
Each centre will be headed by an ECB level three coach known as a Regional Talent Development Manager and supported by four coaches specialising in each of the specific disability groups which lead to England recognition; Blind, Deaf, Physical Disability and Learning Disability.
As well as cricket coaching, the players at each centre will also receive nutritional support from an MSc student from Loughborough University and fitness advice from an exercise scientist.
ECB Disability Cricket Manager Ian Martin said: “These are the first centres anywhere in the world that are aimed solely at enabling deaf and disabled cricketers to fulfil their potential as international cricketers and we are hugely grateful to both Lancashire and Northamptonshire and Whitgift School for supporting this project.
“The vast majority of our players currently go straight from recreational cricket to playing at international level which is a significant jump to make.
"So as well as improving technical skills, the centres will aim to provide lifestyle support, nutritional advice and fitness regimes to better prepare them for the challenge of playing the game at the highest level.”
ECB has also announced new coaching appointments to two of the National Disability Cricket Squads. Following Bobby Denning’s decision to step down as Head Coach to the England Deaf Cricket Team, former ICC Europe Development Manager and level four coach Philip Hudson has been appointed to lead the squad and build on their successful tour of South Africa last month.
Assisting Hudson in the role of Assistant Coach will be Pete Williams who has worked with the squad as Performance Analyst for the last three years.
The England Physical Disability Squad will also have a new Assistant Coach following the appointment of Qasim Ali, a level three coach who is also the Regional Disability Cricket Talent Development Manager for the north region and the lead coach at Lancashire’s Indoor Centre at Old Trafford. He succeeds Will Kitchen in the post and will work closely with the squad’s Head Coach Chris Ellison.