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A milestone for the game

Posted in Disability Cricket

Pete Ackerley & Dick wildgoose,  CFPD

Pete Ackerley & Dick Wildgoose of CFPD at the Lord's signing

It’s been a while since I sat down and wrote a blog which on reflection probably says something about how busy the last few months has been.

My last blog was written in the heat of an Australian summer just after our Blind Team had secured the Ashes and here I am looking out on to my garden where it is pouring with rain and very cold. This is the surest indication that our own cricket season is just around the corner.

So what’s been happening so far in 2009? Well the most significant piece of news, which you may already be aware of, is that each of the disability specific cricket organising bodies have signed Memorandums of Understanding with the ECB.

These documents provide accountability to both ECB and the impairment-specific groups as to what each body is responsible for in the delivery of the sport. It is the first time that the Governing Body (ECB) has entered into such agreements and as such represents a milestone in the development of disability cricket in this country.

Disability Cricket Administrators - Mike Gatting & Pete Ackerley

I was pleased to welcome representatives of BACD, CFPD, ECAD and BCEW to Lord's where the signings took place in the Writing Room in the Pavilion. Also present were Mike Gatting and Pete Ackerley from ECB and an enjoyable afternoon was had by all.

In addition to the cricket-specific organisations we also signed a partnership agreement with the English Federation of Disability Sport, who we will work with to further develop cricket as a sport for people with a disability.

Last Thursday a small group of players with all types of disabilities gathered at Loughborough to be filmed so that we could have a library of footage to use in promotional DVDs in the future.

Nathan Foy & Kevin Shine

Nathan Foy and Kevin Shine

Again it was a another very enjoyable day which was made even better when Kevin Shine, ECB’s lead fast bowling coach gave of his time to do some performance analysis on the bowlers that were present. So we can expect to see Paul Allen and James Dixon from our Deaf Squad, Jimmy Williams and Shaun Rigby from the physical disability game and Kyle Topping from our MLD squad all taking a bag full of wickets this summer following the expert tuition that they received from Kev.

The day was topped off when Graeme Swann came over and spent time out of his rehab programme to talk to the guys and offer advice.

On the development front I’ve had useful discussions with Cumbria, Sussex, Wales, Suffolk, Cheshire, Essex, Staffordshire and Durham to name a few over the last couple of months. All of whom are committed to increasing access to the sport for people with disabilities in their counties.

The South East Disability Development Forum had its first meeting in February and it will help to support opportunities in Kent, Surrey and Sussex.

Finally it wouldn’t be right not to mention the wonderful achievement of our women cricketers in winning the World Cup in Australia a few weeks ago. I for one stayed up to watch the run-chase and the exhaustion of the following day was well worth it.

The development of the disabled game, rightly or wrongly, is often compared to that of the women's game and I for one will be a happy man if the disabled game rises in profile in the same way that the women's game has. It won’t happen overnight but I believe we are on the right track.