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Giant strides this summer

Posted in Disability Cricket

Disability Cricket has been a victim of the weather this year in the same way as the rest of the game has suffered. What a dreadful summer it has been.

All of our national squads have had fixtures cancelled by the weather and a lot of the domestic programme has been affected too. 

At one point last Sunday I thought that the annual fixture between the Physical Disability Squad and an Army XI was going to be washed out but thankfully the clouds relented and we witnessed another competitive match.

The Army ran out winners by 27 runs in the end but our coaches, Chris Ellison and Will Kitchen, will have learnt a lot more about our squad. 

No fewer than five new players made their debuts as word about the squad has spread following the tour to Dubai in February.

Alex Hammond from Hampshire made the most of his opportunity, scoring 80 on his debut, and he was backed up by Ian Nairn of Warwickshire who finished on 48 not out.  Despite the defeat there was much to be encouraged by.

Off the field there have been plenty of developments that affect the future structure of disability cricket. 

We, like 45 other sports governing bodies, submitted our Whole Sport Plan for 2013-17 to Sport England back in May. 

Our bid, if successful, will enable us to invest much more into the structure of disability cricket to ensure that more people can access the sport, more locally at a level that is appropriate for their skill level. 

Whilst putting the bid together there is much to consider.

What are the barriers to disabled people accessing cricket? How do we address them? How much will that cost? What are our aspirations for disabled people within our sport?

Chris Ellison Will Kitchen

England Physical Disability coaches Chris Ellison and Will Kitchen will have taken lots away with them despite losing to the Army

What will it take to bridge the gap between where we are now and that aspirational target?  What mechanism do we have to deliver cricket to disabled people? Do we need more coaches? If so where do we need them and with what skills?

The planning process is a huge undertaking but I firmly believe that with financial backing from Sport England we will be able to deliver cricket to more disabled people, in more appropriate formats, than ever before.

What has become clear is that not all disabled people want to play County Championship or even international level cricket. The overwhelming majority want a recreational game that they can play locally with their family and friends.

By delivering cricket in a variety of formats in new environments I hope that we can meet the demands and needs of many more disabled people.

It’s about building a structure that will enable access to cricket in a variety of formats to suit the needs of all disabled people, recognising that some people are driven by the ambition of representing England and for some people playing Table Cricket is the pinnacle of their cricketing experience – each is as important as the other.

We are limited only by our thinking of what is possible for disabled people to achieve.

We are part of a sport that is easily adapted to enable all members of our communities to access it and I am really looking forward to the next four years of development and to making cricket the sport of choice for ALL disabled people and not just those with international ambitions.

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