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Beyond depressed at Australia defeat

Posted in Disability Cricket

It was finally here, the first game of the England v Australia series we had been working towards for the last two years.

We had an amazing start at Malvern College. A couple of run-outs early on and wickets tumbling at regular intervals saw us have a real foothold in the game.

However, blind cricket being the way it is means there can be better batsmen in the lower order who cannot bat higher due to their sight category. This was the case for Australia, who managed a high-scoring ninth-wicket partnership to give them a very impressive total of 319.

Unfortunately our reply went badly and was looking very bleak with only two wickets left. A 65-run partnership between my brother and me kept us ticking over and saw me pass the 50-mark, but then Dave fell to a slower ball which left me and Amit Amin to get as close as possible.

Amit was amazing and really managed to hang in there so that I could try and attack when I was on strike. After reaching my century and with around 10 overs to go I decided to let loose and try to chase the score down. This worked for a few overs until I was undone by a well-directed slower ball which crept past to clean up my stumps. We were all out for 243. I was devestated.

Back at Malvern College the next day Matt Dean and me had a much more solid start to the game until a bit of a freak dismissal. Matt played through midwicket and the ball hit an old wicket and flew towards a B1 fielder who took the one-bounce catch. After the confusion between umpires and players we all came to realise it was a legitimate dismissal and the captain had to go.

My partnerships with Mo Khatri and Luke Sugg helped us through the middle overs. I fell shortly after making my second century of the series and was then able to watch as Sugg blasted his way to his second hundred versus Australia. His second 50 came off 20 balls. He showed great maturity in the way he manoeuvred the ball and manipulated the strike to bring us through to a very competitive score of 338 for six from our 40 overs.

Rain 10 overs into the reply reduced Australia’s innings to 33 overs, which took the game a little out of our hands. Blind Cricket is not known for its mathematicians so, with no Duckworth/Lewis, we used a linear run-rate. Therefore Australia only needed 260 runs off 33 overs as we were 259 off 33 during our innings.

Lindsay Heaven

Australia needed eight off the last over to seal a series sweep, which they managed - Lindsay Heaven hitting the winning run

This played into their hands but we did not bowl well again, giving away too many extras, and they knocked off the runs with a couple of overs to spare and for the loss of only a couple of wickets.

That was it. The series was effectively over. Australia had won it for the first time and I felt beyond depressed. A man of the match award for myself was little consolation after losing, but it was nice to have a well done for the effort.

On Saturday we were at Warwick School for our last chance to salvage a bit of pride from the series.

The start was slightly delayed, but it was still a 40-over game. England batted first again and I got off to the worst possible start: a first-ball duck to a shot I played too early and later found out the bowler had slipped in delivering the ball, which crashed into my leg stump. But that is how cricket goes sometimes.

The rest of the batsmen really stepped up, especially the B1s. Hassan Khan scored 42, Khatri 32 and Steve Humphreys 38 not out. That was mixed in with fifties from partially-sighted batsmen Dean and Heindrich Swanepoel that brought us up to a score of 297 off 40 overs, the lowest first-innings total of the series but, considering the damp conditions, a good effort from the team.

We took two early wickets, but a steady partnership was able to accelerate their innings and put them in a good position towards the end of it. The momentum went backwards and forwards for a few overs and, after we missed a couple of run-out opportunities, they were left needing eight off the last over which they comfortably managed.

After the game the teams were presented with their medals by Mike Smith, Neil Smith and Vikram Solanki, and Australia with the trophy. Australia did not grab all the awards, however. England scooped the player of the series awards for all three sight categories, including myself in the B3 category which I think goes to show we were not as far off them as the score line would suggest.

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