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A busy and rewarding summer

Posted in Disability Cricket

Ian Martin Promo

Ian Martin

It’s been a while since I last blogged for the website, which is probably a reflection of how busy things have been over the last few months!

On the international front the England Deaf team have been preparing for their World Cup by beating the MCC……..again! Our blind squad are preparing for a home series against Pakistan starting next week, while the Learning Disability team are gearing up for a Tri Nations tournament against South Africa and Australia in Melbourne later this year.

Domestically things couldn’t be busier with disability cricket development activity taking place all over the country. The national county championship continues to thrive with more counties expected to join in next year.

The second Regional Tournament for cricketers with Physical Disabilities took place again at Loughborough in July. While on the whole the tournament was a great success it was a pity that the final was abandoned due to rain.

ECB were pleased to announce a 137 per cent increase in participataion of disabled people in focus clubs alone in 2008 and I am confident that this figure will continue to rise as more and more county boards are offering opportunities for disabled people to get involved in the sport.

You may be aware that ECB recently signed an agreement with Sport England that will see £38m coming into grassroots cricket over the next four years. Disability will be a key area of development over this period and the regional disability development forums that are now in place across the country are a key part of shaping how this money should be prioritised into the disability side of the game.

We have come a long way over the last couple of years and we are beginning to develop a structure at the grassroots level of our game that can cater for the increased levels of participation that a higher profile and the knock on effect of a successful Ashes series will bring.

Talking of a higher-profile, disability cricket has been a key feature in several publications lately including the programme for the Lord’s npower Ashes Test Match and the June edition of Wisden Monthly.

For me the most important article on disability cricket was in this year’s Wisden Cricketers Almanac. This is the first time that disability cricket has been mentioned in the Almanac’s 146-year history and is surely a sign that things are moving in the right direction in terms of getting recognition for the abilities of our players.

We have also seen blind cricketer Nathan Foy crowned as the first ever England Disabled Player of the Year. Nathan received the award at a ceremony in the Long Room at Lord’s from England skipper Andrew Strauss and proceeded to offer his services to Andy Flower should the England coach still be short of ideas for the number three slot in the senior side!!

I wonder who’ll win it next year? It’s an extra incentive for our deaf and learning disability cricketers to think about this winter.

In June, representatives of all of the disability cricket organising bodies were invited to a reception at the House of Commons where they we able to listen to David Collier and Giles Clarke recognise the success that disability cricket has had over the last 12 months.

This visit proved particularly profitable for me. Last time I visited Parliament I bought a bottle of House of Commons whiskey which was rather nice, so I decided I’d get another one this time around. At the counter in the House of Commons shop I was offered a choice of two types, a standard blend or Speaker Martin’s Single Malt.

I plumped for the single malt on the basis that the guy who it was named after had resigned from his office only a week or so before, the first speaker to do so for quite a few years (around 300 I think). So I figured that the bottle would be a little piece of history of some kind. How right I was.

When I got home I tried to purchase another bottle on Ebay only to find that the cheapest one I could find was £115, needless to say my £27 investment is now tucked away gathering dust. Although I’m not sure how long it will last if we win the Ashes come the end of August!