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Playing a positive role in society

Posted in Disability Cricket

Matt Dean & Kevin Pietersen

England captains, Matt Dean and Kevin Pietersen

It’s the beginning of September and almost time to reflect on another season ended. It’s not over just yet though, Sunday September 14 sees the climax of the National Disability County Championship with Cheshire taking on Hampshire at Walmley CC in the final of the ‘Hardball’ competition.

The ‘Incrediball’ final should have taken place on September 7 at Leamington but it was a complete washout so Wales and Yorkshire will play their final as the opening game of next season.

More details regarding the county championship for Physical and Learning Disability Cricketers can be found at www.bacd.co.uk

July saw the first ever regional competition held for cricketers with physical disability. Teams from the North, South & West, Midlands & Wales and London and East met at Loughborough on what must have been the hottest weekend of the year to produce some wonderful and inspiring cricket.

The North ran out as eventual winners defeating the Midlands in the final. The tournament was a big learning curve for all involved and hopefully we will make improvements to the tournament for next year but all agreed it was a step in the right direction.

The best players from this regional tournament were asked to form a Physical Disability Select XI to play against the England Learning Disability Team at Chesterfield CC in August prior to the England Women Twenty20 fixture against South Africa.

Unfortunately the weather took its toll on this fixture too, much to the disappointment of all involved.

Finding a level of competition above the standard of the county championship for players with physical disability is proving challenging. I am currently engaged in discussions which may lead to a development for 2009.

The most important thing from ECB’s point of view is that whatever gets developed is sustainable and is not a one-off, and so time will tell if something will materialise or not; fingers crossed.

The beginning of August saw a record breaking performance from our Blind Cricketers. We welcomed the West Indies to these shores for their first overseas tour and after a convincing victory by England at King Edwards School in Edgbaston the sides arrived at Moseley CC in Solihull for the second match.

England batted first and amassed a mammoth 474 for two in 40 overs on the back of brutal centuries from openers Nathan Foy and Andy Powers. Foy, who is classed as a B1 player – meaning he is totally blind – hit a staggering 192 off just 87 balls, while Powers followed up his magnificent 179 in the first match with 132 off 92 deliveries.

They put on 330 for the first wicket before Matt Dean and Luke Sugg, with an unbeaten 47 and 51 respectively, compounded West Indies’ woes by carrying England to an insurmountable total. The tourists managed just 167 for six in reply as John Garbett claimed 3-32. Only Sheldon Phillip (34) and Ricardo Manning (23) made more than 14.

The team score of 474 for two is the highest ever team total in International Blind Cricket history.

Unfortunately the third game in the series was lost to the weather leaving England as 2-0 series winners. The series was a learning curve for England as they look to bring on some newer, younger members of the squad prior to departing for Australia in the winter.

New skipper Matt Dean led by example by scoring a century in his first game as England captain, a feat followed a few days later by a certain Mr Pietersen who also reached three figures in his first game as England Captain.

Fitting then that we were able to arrange for both England captains to meet up at the O2 in London during the recent NatWest Series against South Africa.

Ian Martin Dame Tanni Grey-Thompsn

Dame Tanni Grey-Thompson signed the One Game Pledge with Ian Martin assisting earlier this summer

Another first this summer was the involvement of ECB in arranging a short tournament for players with mental health illnesses. This came about after I was approached by Annie Bolton from the Slough Mental Health team who said that they had been using cricket as a great way to rebuild self confidence and to reintegrate individuals with illnesses such as depression, schizophrenia and Bi-Polar back into society.

For me, this initiative and ECB’s involvement in it falls very heavily under our ‘One Game’ banner where all members of society are given the opportunity to get involved with the game.

So on August 28 four teams from different parts of the south of England met at the beautiful Shenley Cricket Centre and enjoyed a short tournament. Participation rather than performance was the order of the day but it is fair to say that we had a very enjoyable day leading to one of those involved to comment

“We would love to do it again. We are strongly considering cricket as a change to football. I have never played the game and am thinking of joining the village team.”

Praise indeed, and reassuring to know that cricket can play such a positive role in helping some vulnerable members of our society.

There has been so much more going on, such as new development forums being established in the Durham and soon in London and the East, attendance at the Beyond Boundaries exhibition in Kent, recognition for disability coaches and the disability submission as part of ECB’s whole sport funding proposal to Sport England for the next four years – all of which are keeping me extremely busy but I’ll save some of that for my next blog.

As ever, if you want more information on disability cricket please contact disabilitycricket@ecb.co.uk or visit the disability web pages under the Development section of ecb.co.uk