By the age of 38 most international cricketers have long since hung up their boots and headed off into the cricketing sunset. England Physical Disability (PD) captain Iain Nairn is not most cricketers.
Born with a defective right foot which was amputated when he was a toddler, Iain quickly found a lifelong love of the game.
Despite his early amputation he progressed quickly through the Durham CCC junior ranks before hitting a roadblock, “I played mainstream county cricket up to aged 19 in county age groups. My disability then stopped me from moving forward into a potential career in the game.
“It took me 14 years from there to find disability cricket and rekindle that fire and the dream of being able to play for your country. To be able to captain England on top of that is huge.”
Iain is aware of his position as a role model to the young guys coming through and those just discovering the sport, “What I really want by the time I hang up my boots, is that the game has more people playing it and we are in a position of strength. I want us to be number one in the world by the time I walk away or the youngsters put me under enough pressure so that I know it’s time. It’s a really exciting period and I don’t underestimate the importance of the role.”
He believes that his side can show everyone the benefits of the game and the opportunities cricket can bring, “If a group of physically disabled guys can get onto a cricket pitch and play and entertain people, it tells me that the cricket is a game that everyone can get involved in. Whether it’s to improve health, learn life skills or get that competitive edge, cricket gives you so much.
“If we can do it, I’m certain that anyone watching can and hopefully the next two years will drive more people into the game full stop. We want to be the shining example of what cricket can give you.”
Next month he leads his team in the Vitality IT20 Tri-Series against Bangladesh and Pakistan, the first international PD series in England. Iain believes the series will play a key part in the build up to the 2019 PD World Championship, “This is a huge opportunity for us to showcase what we do in front of our own fans. When we have played at home it’s always been against able-bodied teams. To play on a level playing field and to be able to show what we can do will be special.”
“We know that as PD cricket continues to develop it will become harder and harder to be successful, however we believe that we are continuing to develop as cricketers all the time. The challenge is that we don’t know how far we have come in the past 18 months and this series will show us that.”
Iain is in no doubt that Bangladesh and Pakistan will provide a stern challenge for his side, “Both teams have a real determination – something that comes from the challenges they have faced in their lives - that makes them really thought to beat. They fight hard in any situation whether they are behind in the game or out in front.”
The series will also give the sport a genuine opportunity to expand, something Iain is fully aware of, “We want more people playing and hopefully we can unearth new players and fans. There are people out there who don’t know that our sport exists and a World Championship could give them the motivation to get involved and grow the game.
“The next two years are a watershed moment. Countries are journeying from around the world to play against us. This is our opportunity to show our friends, families, fans and ourselves that all of the hard work and sacrifice has been worth it.”