BLOG: "Cricket is very important to me - I think it’s what helped get me through all my operations"

From the Disability Premier League brochure, we hear from four inspirational grassroots individuals about the role cricket has played for them. In the second of two parts, we hear from Amelia Ridgway and Miranda Brown.

Amelia Ridgway - From a trial session a decade ago to this year's DPL

“I started playing when I was eight, after what was recently realised to have been a misdiagnosis on my right hip, but was told to get into as much sport as possible. My dad saw an advert in the paper for cricket sessions at £2 a go for kids and said: ‘Let’s go down and give it a try’. So, it all started from there, really. I didn’t have a clue what cricket was like, but found a love for the game at my local club (Stoke Bruerne CC) that grew really quickly.

I started off as a left-arm pace bowler, but became an opening bat, and now bowl a bit of off-spin. Coming in off 12-14 paces was a challenge with a problematic hip and I got some good 1-2-1 coaching that really helped my batting. I usually open – though wouldn’t expect to in DPL. That said, I’m quite aggressive, like to get on with it and think if I get an opportunity, I’ll take it in my stride. I’m 17 now, studying for an engineering apprenticeship, though it’s pretty much cricket all the way, all the year round – I also coach during winter and summer at my current club (Stony Stratford CC).

I’m very proud of myself to be where I am now – I captained at county level for Northants for a couple of years and love the fact that I’ll be in such good company at the DPL – and this year’s sole female representative.

Cricket is very important to me. I think it’s what helped get me through all my operations – I’ve had six and will probably need more. For my first – I was eight then – I was off my feet for nearly a year and ever since I’ve had operations pretty much every other year, with up to six months’ recuperation. Even then I just went and watched everyone play cricket. I had a strong determination to get back to playing and am pretty competitive, so was always at the gym, doing physio, stuff like that. And no matter what – I’d go to every training session, even on crutches, stood there watching the others, waiting to get out with them again!”

Miranda Brown - Proud Mum and long-standing supporter

Elliot Brown in action in the DPL

“We’re not a cricket family – at least we weren’t before. Elliot [who was born with cerebral palsy] had to have major surgery when he was 10 and was wheelchair-bound for three months. He loved sport, and we needed to find something. I thought – naively now, I know – cricket’s slower, we could try that. I contacted our local club in Sussex, Steyning CC, explaining our situation, and they were absolutely amazing – even more so considering they didn’t have a specific disability set-up at the time. They basically took Elliot in and taught him how to play. He became obsessed with it, and it progressed from there. 

One day I was asked if we’d thought about contacting the Sussex disability squad – I didn’t even know there was one. We went along to one indoor event, then another, and Fred Bridges (England PD) who was coaching, asked if Elliot would be interested in having a trial for the PD Lions squad. The rest is history. Elliot finishes his Masters dissertation in September, turns 23 in October, and has just started a job at Middlesex CCC in analysis and coaching. I recently had a reminder on Facebook of a piece we did for Evelina London children’s hospital, in which we were recalling being told when he was born that Elliot might never walk or talk. You should hear him behind the stumps now – I think he’s known as a bit of a talker!

It’s been such a powerful experience as a parent to see him develop through cricket.

No-one would believe it, because he’s so outwardly confident, that he’s had some really black moments, times where he’s just thought: ‘Why me?’ Yet cricket has always got him through – he’s made friends for life through the game. And the DPL, which we’ve been involved with since the pilot, has been wonderful.

They’ve asked for and taken feedback from the players, too, which is great.

And I love watching people turn up to see games – particularly people who play cricket, and think they know it – with jaws wide open, marvelling at what they’ve seen. Even if you don’t speak cricket – which I don’t – it becomes hugely addictive.”