England Learning Disability (LD) captain Chris Edwards is calling on his players to take inspiration from the performances of their fellow England teams on their tour of Australia this October.
The LD squad are Down Under for a three-match ODI series and five IT20s against Australia and the skipper wants his charges to look at the memorable performances put in by the likes of Ben Stokes in the World Cup final and in the Ashes, as well as the Physical Disability (PD) team who finished runners up in their World Series this summer.
The five IT20s sees cricket enter the INAS Global Games for the first time – a multi-sport competition for athletes with intellectual impairments. Edwards sees it as an opportunity to help grow the game even further.
We chatted to the captain before he jetted off on tour to get his thoughts on what is ahead.
What is it like playing cricket in Australia?
They are very passionate about their cricket. Being an England player it’s always a challenging environment to go into, especially when you’re wearing the Three Lions – you do become an instant target from the public. From our perspective we’ve got to do what we do best and play good cricket.
There are a few new faces in the England squad, how do rate the squad as a whole?
The squad is improving all the time. This time round we’ve added a few older players into the squad for the first time, who will give us that extra experience and cricketing knowledge. Also, it’s a great opportunity for a couple of the youngsters who are coming in to stake a claim in international cricket.
This is your fifth tour with England – what advice do you give to the new players coming in?
My advice is to enjoy every minute, not to have any regrets and to be positive in backing their ability. A lot of that, from my perspective, is to look after the new guys to make sure they’re settling in and be in a position to help us all achieve our goals.
What does it mean to you to be captaining England?
It’s a massive honour. If someone said to me that I’d be England captain at the age of 22 I’d have been a bit surprised. But to now to be 26 and captaining England for a third time is a huge honour every time I walk onto the pitch. I do it with pride and I like to lead by example for other members of the team to follow.
Cricket makes its debut at the INAS Global Games in Australia – what does this mean to you and the sport?
It’s a massive opportunity for us to showcase our skills. It’s an opportunity to also involve other nations in future tournaments – the ultimate aim for these Games is to leave a lasting impression of what cricket has to offer to global sport. If we can leave that impression on nations who are outside the cricketing bubble at the moment that gives us a great chance to grow our competition.
What inspiration do you take from the other England teams who have put in such memorable performances this summer?
It’s about being able to support each other [as England teams]. That World Cup final was one of the best games that I’ve seen. The character that Ben Stokes showed to effectively keep us in the game, when with 10 overs to go I thought we’d blown our chance. But for him to have that type of character, it sets the example for every England cricketer to aspire to. It was exactly the same when he hit the winning runs in the third Ashes Test – it was amazing to watch.
The PD team were very unfortunate not to win their competition after playing really good cricket throughout the World Series. They’re constantly setting new standards every tournament that they play in. A lot of us know players from the PD side as well, so we have a close friendship with them.