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Cricket can be a cruel sport

Posted in Disability Cricket

A long flight home following a cricket tour always provides time to reflect on what happened and the experiences that the group have shared over the preceding weeks.

Twenty four hours home from Melbourne taking in stops in Singapore and Dubai certainly has given me ample time to give some thought to what our England Deaf squad and management have been part of over the last three weeks.

Firstly, I have to say that the structure and organisation of the tournament was absolutely first class.

We were accommodated at Geelong Grammar School on the shores of Corio Bay, just outside of the city of Geelong in Victoria. Credit must go to Cricket Australia and Cricket Victoria for their work in securing such a wonderful venue.

Thanks must also go to Greg Brown and the Lords' Taverners in Australia who played a major role in supporting Cricket Australia as they seek to further develop all aspects of disability cricket.

So what about the cricket? We set ourselves two goals before we left England - to win the Test and secure the Ashes and to remain unbeaten on the tour.

Those of you who have followed the tour and the match reports will know that we achieved neither of these objectives. But that doesn't really tell the full story of the tour.

We dominated the Test. We achieved our goals for day one and day two by putting ourselves in a position where we could win the game on day three, but sometimes things just aren't meant to be.

Some very dogged resistance from the Australians seriously delayed our charge for victory. One of the Australian batsmen batted six hours for 70-odd and went through a period where he faced 81 deliveries without scoring a run.

To his credit he did exactly what his country needed him to do in the context of the game and we cannot fault that.

Sadly we ran out of time to knock off the 215 runs we needed to win. Australia retained the Ashes by virtue of a win that they had in the 2004 series. In two series since then, neither team has done enough to beat the other in extremely hard fought series.

Next up was the ODI series. We picked ourselves up really quickly following the disappointment of not winning the Test.

England Deaf

The England Deaf squad's tour was an undoubted success even if we did not complete our two key objectives for the trip

We beat South Africa and Australia comfortably on consecutive days to put ourselves in the 50-over final. We then beat both teams again in the T20 competition and put ourselves in the final against Australia who had also beaten South Africa.

The T20 final came first and we dominated from start to finish to win by 100-odd runs which is obviously a convincing victory in that format of the game. Celebrations were muted and low key because we recognised that the job was not done and that we still had the ODI final to come the next day.

I'm not going to say anything about the ODI final except that we had a bad day at the office. To say that we were all low and very dejected afterwards is a massive understatement. We just did not do ourselves any justice at all and in the process lost our unbeaten run.

To conclude, this tour ranks alongside the Blind Ashes tour of 2008 as being the best that I have ever been involved with.

From the management through to the youngest and most inexperienced player, everybody pulled together and contributed to the success of the group as a whole.

If someone had said before we left England that we would play seven games and only lose one - we'd have taken that and considered it a remarkable achievement.

What is difficult to swallow, however, is that we were good enough to have done even better. We could not have asked anymore from the squad.

Cricket can be a cruel sport sometimes.