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Aussie series caps a busy six weeks

Posted in Disability Cricket

Kym Daley & Umesh Valjee, Deaf Ashes 2008

Aussie skipper Kym Daley and England captain Umesh Valjee before the start of the Deaf series

Although it was only six weeks or so since my last blog I’m struggling to keep this update down to reasonable length, so much has been going on!

Where shall I start? Well, at the end of May our Learning Disability Cricketers defeated the reigning Physical and Learning Disability County Champions, Lancashire, at Euxton CC in Lancashire. England got off to a tricky start losing Doug Randall in the first over. A partnership between Mark O'Brian and Gavin Randall settled things down and when Gavin Randall was dismissed for nine, this saw a partnership between Chris Edwards and Mark O’Brian start to take the game away from Lancashire.

Helped by a number of wides from the Lancashire bowlers, England rapidly increased the run rate and when Kyle Topping joined Edwards, England set their sights on a big total. An excellent cameo knock from Danny West ensured England achieved their target of 200 plus. Chris Edwards finished on 62 and Topping 27. Mike Bowen was the pick of the Lancashire bowlers taking 2-31.

Poor bowling from England in the early stages of Lancashires innings saw them get off to an excellent start, Steve Kenny taking a particular liking to some wayward bowling. The drinks interval however brought about a change in the bowling with England bowling wicket to wicket. This started to see a steady fall of wickets with James Dickens being the pick of the bowlers with 3-48. Lancashire’s main contributions came from Kenny (22) and Bowen (18).

This game saw continued improvement in performance from England, who seem to improve with each game. A clear target for the side when they bat first is to bat the allocated overs. There are players in the side who will ensure a big total is achieved if they bat the overs. With bowlers now showing they are capable of bowling wicket to wicket, the side is also looking strong in the field as demonstrated in this game.

The next outing for the England LD team will be at Chesterfield CC on August 20 when they take on a Physical Disability Select XI prior to the England Women's Twenty20 v South Africa.

The physical disability team for that game will be selected from the players that shine at the first ever regional disability cricket tournament for players with Physical Disabilities. The tournament will take place at Loughborough on July 26-27 and will see teams from North, South & West, London & East and the Midlands & Wales competing against each other in a Twenty20 competition. The idea of the tournament is to give our best physically disabled players a level of competition above that of the county championship and we are all looking forward to some good competitive cricket.

Speaking of competitive cricket, I have been privileged to be able to spend the last week with the England Deaf Squad as they have competed in two Test matches against Australia in the Ashes series for Deaf Cricketers. To give you some background, coming into this series Australia held the urn after defeating England in Australia in 2004. In their next encounter England defeated Australia in the semi-final of the World Cup in India in 2006 thereby inflicting Australia's first ever defeat in a deaf cricket international.

So when the teams lined up at Southport and Birkdale CC on July 8 for the first Test match you had the feeling that we would be in for a very competitive contest indeed. So it proved and scorecards are detailed elsewhere on the disability pages of the ECB website.

England Deaf 2008

The England Deaf team and management for the series against Australia

This series of two Test matches (the second Test has just finished at Colwyn Bay CC) had it all: rain interruptions at Southport, sunburn on Sunday at Colwyn Bay, controversial incidents on and off the pitch, spectacular batting, aggressive bowling, injuries, brilliant and not so brilliant fielding and compelling cricket that left the spectators not wanting to leave their seats.

It was everything that Test match cricket should be and I’m so glad I was able to witness these matches rather than the one at Lord's that was taking place at the same time!! It’s always a strange talking point when telling a non-cricketing friend that a drawn Test can be exciting – these two games highlighted the point... and then some.

Despite the best efforts of both sides both games ended in draws which resulted in Australia retaining the urn.

Great word 'retaining', definitely sounds better than Australia winning.

I guess I shouldn’t bait the Aussies too much – our disability sides will be seeing plenty of them over the coming months. I must also say that without the support of Cricket Australia this tour wouldn’t have happened at all.

The standard of the cricket in these games has been fantastic from start to finish and credit should go to both sets of players, management and coaches for what has been the highlight of the disability cricket summer so far.

The teams now move in into the limited overs stage of the tour beginning with a Twenty20 at Colwyn Bay on Thursday July 17 followed by ODIs at Walmley CC, New Road Worcester and Campbell Park in Milton Keynes. If the standard of the cricket remains the same then we are in for a treat and I recommend that if you get chance to take in one of these games then please do, you’ll not be disappointed.

Off the pitch things are moving on at a pace with more and more development activity taking place. Since my last blog the CFPD have been busy hosting their annual fixtures at The Brit Oval, Sherbourne, Headingley and Newport and they have their fixture at Luctonians in Herefordshire on Sunday July 20.

There has been a VI cricket development event in Durham to launch the North East Eagles Visually Impaired Cricket Club and this will be followed up by an event at Trent Bridge on September 27 to launch the Nottingham Nights Visually Impaired Cricket Club.

On June 10 I was able to attend the Lord's Taverners National Table Cricket Final, held in the Nursery Pavilion at Lord's. This is always a fantastic day and this year the tournament was won by Portland College from Nottingham.

I was able to make great links with the Taverners and we are meeting later this month to discuss how ECB and the Lord's Taverners might work more closely for the furtherance of disability cricket.

A busy week next week will see me attend three ODIs with our deaf side, I’m meeting with EFDS and the National Deaf Childrens Society and attending the Beyond Boundaries disability exhibition in Kent. We then have the farewell diiner for the Australian Deaf Team followed by the Physical Disability Tournament at Loughborough.

A day or two after the Australians fly home we will be welcoming the West Indies Blind team to England for a three match ODI series which will take place in the West Midlands. A busy time indeed which will see me and the M6 well acquainted by the end of August.

Please try and get to a few games if you can and you can download the official guide to this summer's international disability cricket from www.ecb.co.uk/disabilitycricket

Regards

Ian